With new research showing the Coffs Harbour region is set to experience a jobs boom in health and ageing, one particular career pathway stands out from the rest: psychology.
“The fantastic thing about psychology is that it opens up so many employment opportunities,” says Dr Desirée Kozlowski, Psychology Lecturer at Southern Cross University.
“You can study to become a registered psychologist or you can work in other areas like data, human resource management, business, education, health or sports-you can get a job as a student counsellor or career advisor, a family therapist or a social worker-it’s very exciting.”
Southern Cross University’s Coffs Harbour campus has experienced a spike in enrolments after its Psychology program was ranked number one in Australia by the Federal Government’s 2019 Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) assessment in April.
QILT results are based on a national student feedback survey.
“It’s fantastic to receive such an acknowledgement,” says Dr Gail Moloney, Psychology Honours Course Co-ordinator at Southern Cross University.
“We’ve made a point of creating a course that offers very personalised interaction with a huge level of support for all of our students.”
The Psychology Honours course at Coffs Harbour has gained such a positive reputation that it’s now attracting large numbers of students from Sydney and Melbourne.
“Most of our Honours students actually come from Sydney; they move here to do the course and are very impressed by the program and the support they receive” Dr Moloney says.
Psychology student Rachel Clark relocated from Sydney to Coffs Harbour to complete her Honours degree and says she can’t speak highly enough of her experience.
“The moment we arrived we felt we weren’t just numbers at the university; we were all people with names, we felt so supported and the staff were all putting their hands up to help us, it was all really positive,” Rachel says.
“The Honours Program was really well-rounded, so after I finished I really prospered.”
Rachel says the experience of living and studying in Coffs has completely transformed her life’s trajectory.
“After I graduated I went on to complete my Masters degree and I’ve returned to the city to take a breather from full time work and study-but my dream is to return to Coffs Harbour,” Rachel says.
“Studying Honours in Coffs got me hooked on that incredible lifestyle; there was such a strong sense of community to both the uni and the town and we just don’t have that in Sydney. Now that I’m back (in Sydney) I spend a lot of my time trying to recreate a Coffs experience here.”
Coffs Harbour Psychologist Jodi Wittenberg also studied at Southern Cross University’s Coffs Harbour campus and says there are huge benefits to studying locally.
“Studying in Coffs meant I had the opportunity to meet local health providers and people who work in the health sector, so I was able to make some great contacts,” Jodi says.
“It made it easier for me to secure work when I returned to Coffs after finishing my postgraduate study.”
Jodi and Rachel both say they found the experience of studying in Coffs Harbour far more positive than studying in the city.
“I’ve studied at big city universities and in the country and I can definitely say I felt a lot more supported at our local uni, I really enjoyed it,” Jodi says.
With forecasts for significant growth in Coffs Harbour’s health and ageing industries, Rachel and Jodi are among a growing group of young people choosing to study and work in our region’s blossoming healthcare sector. It’s a trend that Professor Leslie Christidis, Head of Campus and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southern Cross University Coffs Harbour, is excited to witness.
“Studying in Coffs Harbour provides you with access to some of our country’s most prestigious health degrees, from Psychology to Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Exercise Science and Midwifery-with access to a healthy job market and fantastic employment outcomes after you graduate,” Professor Christidis says.
“We’ve made a point of creating a range of high-quality courses that set our graduates up for bright futures with a huge range of career opportunities.”