Monthly Archives: December 2018

Chinan Open 2016: players check in while the fans check them out

Posted on 21/12/2018 by

Andy Murray of Great Britain in a training session at Crown Entertainment Complex in Melbourne. Photo: Robert Prezioso Venus Williams, during a practice session, is likely to find herself among the top eight seeded women in the women’s draw. Photo: Michael Dodge

With the world’s top tennis players now checking in to city hotels, the tennis-loving public gets its chance to check out their racquet-wielding heroes’ form ahead of the n Open which starts on January 18.

Among those already checked in and warming up for the forecast hot conditions are Czech Tomas Berdych​, Spaniard Feliciano Lopez and American sisters Venus and Serena Williams.

Venus, who was on court at Melbourne Park on Monday, is likely to find herself among the top eight seeded women in the women’s draw after number nine ranked Lucie Safarova​ pulled out of the Open with a bacterial infection.

Looking in ominous form, Scottish world number two Andy Murray had a hit-out with a view on one of Crown’s tennis courts before crossing the Yarra to test out the surface at Rod Laver Arena on Monday afternoon.

Coached by Amelie Mauresmo, the four-time n Open runner up has already said he wouldn’t hesitate to leave if wife Kim Sears went into labour early with the couple’s first child, due in February.

Taking to Rod Laver Arena ahead of Andy Murray on Monday was Asia’s top-ranking male player, Japan’s Kei Nishikori.

Despite the background noise of drilling as workers prepared the stadium’s lighting and overhead screens, the world number eight practised with n Rameez Junaid​.

While most of the top players travel with a hitting partner, some also like to tailor their practice sessions by pairing up with particular types of players – be it a left hander, a baseliner or a big server. The pairings are courtesy of staff at the tournament’s player services desk, who handle requests in the lead-up to the tournament and during the fortnight of competition.

While Melbourne-based Junaid is better known as a doubles player and is currently ranked in the top 100 in doubles, the 34-year-old kept up with Nishikori, with both men keenly watched by their respective coaches.

Meanwhile, the patient fans who waited at Melbourne airport on Sunday night to welcome world number one and defending n Open champion Novak Djokovic​ to town were rewarded with selfies and autographs from the popular Serb, who has already racked up a win in 2016 after taking out the Qatar Open.

That title, his 60th overall at tour-level, places the 28-year-old in elite company as he becomes just the 10th player in the Open Era to reach the milestone.

Two-time n Open champion Victoria Azarenka​ announced her arrival on Twitter on Monday, fresh from her victory over Germany’s Angelique Kerber​ at the Brisbane International. Now ranked 16, the win marked her first title in two years and given the injury sweeping the upper echelons of women’s tennis Azarenka is up there with Serena Williams as a contender for the 2016 title.


Victoria Azarenka

Tomas Berdych

Novak Djokervic

Jovana Jaksic​

Madison Keys

Feliciano Lopez

Gael Monfils​

Andy Murray

Kei Nishikori

Maria Sharapova

Ajla Tomljanovic​

Serena Williams

Venus Williams

Caroline Wozniacki​

Resource recovery business cops $15,000 environmental fine

Posted on 21/12/2018 by

The NSW Environment Protection Authority has issued a $15,000 fine toJET Group Pty Ltd, for failing to remediate a contaminated wood stockpile at its Toronto premises.

The authority is also taking action against the companyfor unsatisfactory environmental practices associated with the running of the site, which trades as Oz Landscape Supplies.

“The EPA first became aware that JET Group was operating a composting and resource recovery facility at its Toronto premises without an environment protection licence in November 2013,”EPA acting manager regional manager compliance Cate Woodssaid.

“We’ve since issued a clean up notice, a prevention notice and two variations of the prevention notice to the company.”

Under the most recent conditions of the Prevention Notice, the companywas requiredto remove a contaminated wood stockpile.

“JET Group has failed to comply with the deadline despite being provided with time extensions by the EPA,” Ms Woodssaid.

“Due to the location of the wood stockpile on the property, it could cause a pollution incident because chemicals, such as copper chrome arsenate, are able to leach into ground and surface water.Additionally the timber could be processed into mulch and applied to customers gardens, exposing risks to human health and wider spread of contamination.”

Ms Woods said remediation of the contaminated stockpile is still required to be completed.

“The site is not licensed by the EPA and so it does not have all the environmental controls that the EPA would usually require to prevent this kind of offence in the first place.”

“This is a reminder to all waste companies to make sure their depots are properly licensed and have strong environmental practices in place.”

Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance, including formal warnings, licence conditions, notices and directions, mandatory audits, enforceable undertakings, legally binding pollution reduction programs and prosecutions.

The EPA must also take a range of factors into account before delivering a proportionate regulatory response, including the degree of environmental harm, whether or not there are any real or potential health impacts, if the action of the offender was deliberate, compliance history, public interest and best environmental outcomes.

Six games without a goal, 10 games without a win … where to now for the Jets?

Posted on 21/12/2018 by

FRUSTRATION: Ben Kantarovski after Sydney’s second goal. Picture: Getty ImagesTHE statistics make grim reading.

Six games without a goal. Ten games without a win. A joint share of one A-League record, and two more looming large on the horizon.

But if Newcastle Jets fans had formed the opinion that things could hardly be worse, perhaps they should cast their minds back to the corresponding stage of last season.

In their second game of 2015, Newcastle suffered a club-record 7-0 hammering from Adelaide, beforecoach Phil Stubbins and a player reportedly almost came to blows. Within dayscontroversial owner Nathan Tinkler moved to sack five players and three members of the coaching staff.

A once-proud club was officially a basket case.

Twelve months on, Stubbins’ successor, Scott Miller, must be starting to realise what a tough gig he has inherited.Miller’s dream start of three wins fromhis first four games is fast fading from memory.Since their memorable 3-2 comeback against Melbourne City on October 30, the Jets have suffered six defeats and four draws.

Their most recent goal was a distant 559 minutes ago, by Ben Kantarovski against Brisbane on November 28.

EMOTIONAL CONTRAST: Ali Abbas celebrates a goal against his former Newcastle teamates. Picture: Getty Images

Theyare only the second team in A-League history to go six games without a goal, and are in danger of surpassing the recordstretch of 606 minutes set by now-defunct New Zealand Knights in season two of the A-League.

If they don’t beat Wellington at Hunter Stadium on Sunday, they will equal the Newcastle club-record winless stretch of 11 games.

THAT HURTS: Jason Hoffman reflects on Newcastle’s sixth game without a goal. Picture: Getty Images

Newcastle’s tallyof nine goals in 14 games is six fewer than their nearest rivals, and a remarkable 26 fewer than the A-League’s most potent team, Melbourne City.The fewest goals scored by any team in an A-League seasonwas 13 by the ill-fated Knights in 2006-07, but at that time the competition format was only 21 regular-season rounds.

Meanwhile, Newcastle have slid to eighth on the points table, more than a win adrift of the top six with 13 rounds to play. They desperately need to import some firepower in the January transfer window if they hope to avoid missing the finals for the sixth straight season.

Their dilemma was encapsulated ina comment from Foxtel analyst Robbie Slater about Jets striker Milos Trifunovic, who is Newcastle’s leading scorerthis season.

“For me, he looks like he doesn’t have any belief that he’s going toscore a goal, Trifunovic,” Slater said.

“And that goes for the rest of the Newcastle players.”

Wild Oats XI owner Bob Oatley dead at 87

Posted on 21/12/2018 by

Bob Oatley: Setting his own course

Businessman, winemaker and yachtsman Bob Oatley AO has died of illness, aged 87.

Mr Oatley was the owner of Wild Oats XI and died on Sunday morning, according to sources close to the family.

Wild Oates XI won the iconic Sydney-to-Hobart race for the eighth time in 10 years in 2014, but tragically had to pull out of the Boxing Day race due to damage to the mainsail caused by bad weather.

Forbes magazine last year estimated his net worth to be $910 million, while he was listed at number 49 on last year’s BRW Rich List, with an estimated wealth of $1 billion.

While yachting is where he made his name, it was in wine that Oatley made his fortune, via the Rosemount Estates wine company. The multi-millionaire entrepreneur founded Rosemount Estate winery in 1969 and expanded it as a private company over three decades.

Rosemount went global, becoming the second-biggest selling n wine brand in the US and ‘s largest family owned winery. From its meagre Hunter Valley beginnings, the estate fetched an extraordinary $1.4 billion in 2001 when Oatley sold it to Treasury Wine Estates.

Two years later the Oatley family bought Hamilton Island for $200 million, pouring large amounts of money into re-developing the Whitsunday resort into a world-renowned luxury island destination.

Oatley’s two passions were wine and sailing. He pursued his interest in sailing as the owner of the highly successful Wild Oats yacht and through hosting an annual race week at Hamilton Island.

In 2006 the Oatley family returned to the wine business, opening Robert Oatley Vineyards which operated out of NSW and Western , producing boutique brands including Wild Oats and the Robert Oatley signature series.

He also owned retirement homes and a clifftop villa in Sardinia, Italy.

Oatley planned to send a team to compete in the America’s Cup, before pulling out in 2014, citing cost.

“His tilt at leading the next n entry in the America’s Cup was scuttled when he withdrew after being unable to negotiate rule changes with defending champion and fellow billionaire Larry Ellison that would have seen the price of entry slashed,” BRW magazine reported.

In 2014 Oatley was named an Officer of the Order of (AO) for “distinguished service to the n wine and tourism industries [and] to the sport of yacht racing”.

Last November, Yachting honoured Oatley with a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to sailing.

Oatley made his first fortune in the 1950s and 60s trading coffee and cocoa beans from Papua New Guinea.

His convict ancestor, James Oatley, was ‘s first clockmaker, according to Forbes magazine.

Mr Oatley is survived by his wife Valerie and three children Sandy, Ian and Ros.

Wanderers will get better in the second half of the season, says Tony Popovic

Posted on 21/12/2018 by

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic might still be smarting over the disallowed goal that cost his side victory against Melbourne City on Saturday night but he is confident his team will rebound to scale new heights in the coming months.

The match at AAMI Park was locked at 2-2 when a quickly taken free-kick was received by Mark Bridge, who duly put the ball past City keeper Thomas Sorensen.

But referee Jarred Gillett disallowed the goal, saying he wrongly re-started play before City captain Patrick Kisnorbo was able to resume his position in defence after being spoken to by the official. Furious Wanderers players and coaching staff protested but the decision remained.

With only a few minutes left in regulation time, Aaron Mooy was able to find Harry Novillo, who created space before bending a superb strike past Andrew Redmayne, sealing the three points for City and sending the Wanderers to second on the A-League ladder, below Brisbane Roar on goal difference.

But with a home Sydney derby this Saturday night – and with only three points between the Wanderers and Sky Blues –  Popovic is sure his team will re-group and begin its charge to regain top spot.

“We can certainly improve a lot more, there’s no doubt about that. When we started the season, in the first three games, we didn’t win a game. Since then, we didn’t lose until now and it’s been a really quick rise in terms of our play,” he said. “You’d have to envisage that the cohesion and fluency will only get better come the second half of the season and I’m expecting to see our football improve. Hopefully that will show in the results.”

While the Wanderers dominated for large patches of play, their failure to finish key chances again proved to be critical. However, Popovic maintained that the positive of his team creating the chances outweighed the negative of bad finishing.

“You want to take your chances, but you’re delighted you can create them, regardless of how the game is going,” he said. “We conceded three very good goals from two very good individuals. We didn’t get carved open but I thought we played a really big part in a very good game.”

Surprisingly, Popovic opted against starting Romeo Castelen, arguably the Wanderers’ best player this season. However, the Dutchman made a suitable impression off the bench and is likely to stay there for the derby.

“He was fantastic. That’s what you hope for from your subs, that they come on an make an impact,” Popovic said. “He played a big part in the equaliser and he had a great chance with a one-on-one against the goalkeeper.”

The Wanderers have not been linked with much activity during the January transfer window but Popovic said it was still possible something could happen.

“We’re not actively seeking anything but you have to keep your eye out and just see what is out there,” he said. “If there is something we need or something comes available, then we’ll consider it.”

NSW Swifts star Sharni Layton thrilled to be Chinan Diamonds vice-captain

Posted on 05/12/2018 by

Opportunity: Sharni Layton. Photo: Brendan Esposito Ready: Sharni Layton is relishing the increased responsibility. Photo: Michele Mossop

“It’s such a great experience for me and it’s a role I haven’t had to do before.” Photo: Michele Mossop

Sharni Layton is ready to step from the shadows of Laura Geitz and Julie Corletto and stamp her on-court commitment and vocal dominance in the n Diamonds’ upcoming Test series against England.

The NSW Swifts goal keeper was named as acting vice-captain alongside West Coast Fever’s Caitlin Bassett, with Queensland Firebirds defender Clare McMeniman acting captain in the absence of usual leader Geitz (rested) and vice-captain Renae Ingles (injury).

“It’s such a great experience for me and it’s a role I haven’t had to do before. I’ve always been the inexperienced one around Laura and Julie and Bianca Chatfield,” Layton said. “For me, being on the more mature end, having that role in the leadership group is really about teaching the young ones that are coming away with us what it’s all about and consolidating what we need to do as Diamonds for the next four years.”

The 28-year-old had a stellar 2015, winning the Netball World Cup and the Constellation Cup with the Diamonds, alongside being named the 2015 ANZ Championship Player of the Year and MVP of the finals series, which ultimately saw her Swifts lose at the death to the Firebirds.

Her biggest challenge this year will come on January 21 when the Diamonds will look to avenge a 3-0 series whitewash against England in 2013, a series Layton missed due to a shoulder injury. Layton is bullish about the Swifts’ chances this year, echoing coach Lisa Alexander’s “top of our game” approach.

“We have been working super hard but I’m sure England have as well and there will be challenges. But, in saying that, we love challenges and I believe we can put out our best performances on court,” she said. “It’ll be interesting to see how everything will pan out but we’re definitely not going over there for a friendly.”

Layton’s unapologetic playing style, coupled with her booming vocal cords, have been the hallmark of her playing career and she is not about to change that when she helps lead the Diamonds out in the next few weeks. Describing her leadership style as action-based, Layton is already working on her perceived leadership weaknesses, stemmed from a work ethic so prominent that she has been ranked No.1 in defensive rebounds, deflections and intercepts in the ANZ Championship.

Alexander will play Layton in her favoured position at goal keeper and is looking forward to the impact she will bring on and off the court. “Her level of play really has not reached its ceiling that’s for certain in international netball. We’ve seen what she can do on the ANZ Championship court, what a fantastic competitor she is and how she can really ignite a whole stadium of spectators,” Alexander said.

“She really puts maximum effort into all of her training sessions and she works damn hard off the court. She’s a great example. She’s enthusiastic, positive and encouraging and people want to follow that and follow her. I think she just can’t wait for that opportunity. “

‘s 2016 tour of England (all times AEDT)   Test 1 v England  Thursday, January 21 Echo Arena, Liverpool 6.30am    Test 2 v England Saturday, January 23 Copper Box Arena, London 6.30am   Test 3 v England  Monday, January 25 Copper Box Arena, London 5.30am 

Golden Globes 2016: Ricky Gervais as host is crude, rude and very nearly off the rails

Posted on 05/12/2018 by

The measure of any awards show host is revealed in the opening volley. It’s a love affair with the audience which is won or lost in a moment. That’s why Billy Crystal, and the pairing of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, are remembered with reverence. And why Seth McFarlane doesn’t get asked back any more.

Ricky Gervais was returning to the Golden Globes this year after three winning turns as host, having set the bar impossibly high, and a three year absence during which the awards were hosted by the brilliant pairing of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

He recovered in the end, just, but for one perilous moment it nearly skidded off the rails.

Gervais’ first outings as host of film and television’s bridesmaid of awards shows were sharp, and took aim at Hollywood’s most exalted stars and most taboo subjects. This year, after much pre-hype, his opening monologue was filled with easy targets and crude humour which seemed to fall flat with the star-studded audience.

Early on in the show Gervais had posted on Facebook and Twitter “Can’t wait for people to start reporting that I offended some people at The Golden Globes. Of course I f—ing did.”

During the awards the 54-year-old British comedian took shots at NBC, the US network airing the Globes – “they have zero nominations … there is nothing in it for them tonight” – as well as the awards organising body, the eccentric and often-maligned Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

He poked fun at the HFPA’s decision to nominate The Martian as a comedy. “To be fair, The Martian was lot funnier than Pixels, but then so was Schindler’s List,” he said, adding – under his breath, when the joke fell flat – “it’s just a film.”

He also said: “The president of the HFPA just told me if I say anything offensive, or crass … he’s going to come out here personally and pull me off.” The joke took a moment to hit the audience. “Yes, that is the level [of the jokes],” Gervais added, “An old man pulling me off.”

Another easy target: former Olympian Bruce Jenner, now trans celebrity Caitlyn Jenner. “I’ve changed,” Gervais said, “Not as much as Bruce Jenner. She became a role model for trans people everywhere. She didn’t do a lot for women drivers.” (Jenner was involved in a car accident which resulted in a fatality.)

And another: the reputation of the HFPA as journalists whose vote can be swayed with gifts. “As if film companies would say away from the chance of winning a Golden Globe,” Gervais said, “Particularly if their film company has already paid for it.”

It made for an awkward handover to the organisation’s president, Lorenzo Soria, who writes for the Italian magazine L’Espresso, but it was Soria’s speech which brought a curious, and unexpected, dignity to an otherwise patchy opening.

“We can all use our influence to shine a spotlight on violence, injustice and intolerance,” Soria said, as the television cameras cut somewhat predictably to actor and activist Brad Pitt, “[and] in doing so we can make our world a more hopeful, and a better, place.”

In some respects Soria’s words were soft, but they offered a fascinating juxtaposition to the older, more serious Academy Awards where political statements and such issue-based spotlight-aiming has, at times, been frowned upon by organisers.

Overall, Gervais was sharp, though his kick-off was off-target and a little too crude for his audience, in the room, at home and even online. He clawed back some ground later in the show, fencing with n actor Mel Gibson who deserves a Golden Globe just for turning on the charm through gritted teeth.

In most respects the Golden Globes telecast was scripted down to the last detail, though the event – a sit-down-dinner as opposed to the more usual auditorium style – has a reputation for unpredictability and celebrity mischief, typically of the actress-caught-in-the-loo-as-their-name-is-announced variety.

And Gervais’ toilet humour proved persistent if not entirely persuasive, as he revealed the fate of the three Golden Globes he has, himself, won.

“One’s a doorstop, one I use to hit burglars with, and one I keep by the bed to … it doesn’t matter, it’s mine,” he said, adding: “To be clear, that was a joke about me shoving Golden Globes I have won up my ass.”

Western Sydney Wanderers may disagree, but Jarred Gillett was correct

Posted on 05/12/2018 by

Western Sydney Wanderers may disagree, but Jarred Gillett was right to disallow them a goal against Melbourne City. The referee at the centre of Western Sydney’s contentious overruled goal carelessly allowed the Wanderers to quickly take a free kick before a Melbourne City defender could drop back into position. That defender, Patrick Kisnorbo, was only pulled out of position by Gillett for a lecture after a foul. The ever-aware Wanderers quickly pounced on that opportunity once Gillett incorrectly blew for play on, scoring via a player unmarked where Kisnorbo was previously standing.

Had it not been for an astute linesman, Gillett would not have been aware of this situation and would have allowed the goal to stand.

Brisbane too were let down by a linesman after being awarded a penalty against Wellington Phoenix, which was similarly overturned by a vigilant assistant who spotted the smallest of infringements by the attacking team. In a game where players of all ages are told to “play the whistle” it was cruel and seemingly unjust to order the Wanderers to retake it, but not as unfair as it would have been to allow that goal to stand.

2. Where there’s a will there’s a way

It was one of the most powerful moments of season – the split second after Ali Abbas scored in his first game after 13-month lay-off. He looked straight to the Sydney FC supporters, wanting to run towards them, but instead turned towards the coaching staff and jumped into the arms of the club physio and conditioning coach.

In early December 2014, doctors told Abbas his chances of playing again weren’t good after rupturing two ligaments in a horror tackle. Determined not to let that moment ruin his career, Abbas worked tirelessly to come back and made his impact minutes into his first professional game in more than a year.

3. Dollars over sense

Few games would have hurt more for the struggling Central Coast Mariners than their 3-3 draw with Melbourne Victory, and the question is, had they stayed in Gosford, instead of moving their home game to Geelong, would they have won? Central Coast was once a fortress for the side but, more eager to chase dollars than competition points, they moved that game to Geelong with a match fee understood to be attached. Naturally the crowd was mostly made up of Victory supporters who spurred their side on towards an unlikely comeback.

4. Jets in freefall

We’re now past the halfway stage of the most generous football competition in the world – where 60 per cent of teams make the finals – and Newcastle Jets don’t look like finishing in the top six for the sixth season in a row. Their 2-0 loss to Sydney FC made it seven weeks since they’ve scored and 11 weeks since they last won a match.

Worse still, the club looked bereft of confidence and simple marking and tracking would have prevented them from conceding. At the other end, the club looks rattled in the final third and although just four points from the finals zone, they don’t look close to bridging that gap.

5. World game v colonial game

It’s a battle that has been brewing for some time and will come to a head on Saturday night. No it’s not just Sydney FC against Western Sydney Wanderers but the world game against the colonial game. The A-League and Big Bash League cricket will further divide the city with two derby games and it is likely cricket will win the audience battle off the field.

Next year the A-League derbies appear set for ANZ Stadium, which could draw crowds in excess of 50,000 and if the FFA manages to seal a deal with a network, it will be broadcast nationally, truly challenging Big Bash cricket.

Islamic State threat lies with fighters returning home to South East Asia

Posted on 05/12/2018 by

A video reportedly showing an Islamic State training camp in the Philippines. Photo: YouTube Bali bomber Imam Samudra. Photo: AP/Charles Dharapak

A video released by the Abu Sayyaf Islamists in 2012 showing former captive, n Warren Rodwell. Photo: Supplied

Terror groups form Islamic State powerhouse in Philippines

Violent pockets of rebellion are dotted across South East Asia. Alarm that Islamic State could find a toehold in the neighbourhood after more extremist groups pledge support is understandable, but not the most far-reaching security concern.

The bigger fear is the terrorist fighters from the region who have travelled to serve with Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and what plans they might bring home on their eventual return.

This stems from the experience in Afghanistan in the 1990s, where the terrorists who went on to carry out the Bali bombings and other atrocities learned their deadly skills.

The eldest son of Bali bomber Imam Samudra was killed fighting for ­Islamic State in Syria in September, which may be one fewer terrorist to pose a threat but is an indication of the pedigree of fighters who have travelled from the region. Estimates range from anywhere up to 900 fighters from South East Asia fighting in Syria and Iraq, a comparatively small but deadly cohort.

The declaration of the allegiance and possible merger of terrorist groups in the Philippines gives Islamic State another a propaganda boost, but will make little immediate difference to the threat in the region.

The long-running insurgency in the nation’s rural south shows holding territory is fraught, let alone establishing an Islamic State-style fortress.

The local conflict has ebbed and surged, the heavy-handed police and military at times driving more supporters towards the insurgents, while the criminal zeal of the notorious Abu Sayyaf radicals alienates the local population.

A political peace process on the island of Mindanao has further driven Abu Sayyaf and other militants to extremes.

They may chirp up with fiery anti-Western denunciation but, just as occurred with their promise to attack the recent regional summit in Manila attended by leaders from the US, and other nations, their ability to back up threats with action is limited.

What this latest declaration may do is raise the profile of South East Asia in the eyes of Islamic State leaders as the boundaries of their so-called caliphate in the Middle East is pushed back.

Should an eventual collapse of Islamic State see its most fervent adherents scurry back home to pursue violence, the danger in the region will be far more acute.

University of NSW beats Sydney University in race for school-leavers’ preferences

Posted on 05/12/2018 by

The new $125 million Biological Sciences building at the University of New South Wales (UNSW)Kensington campus Photo: Woods Bagot Falling behind in school leaver preferences: The University of Sydney Photo: Victoria Baldwin

UNSW graduates and Atlassian co founders Mike Cannon-Brookes (left, with scarf) and Scott Farquhar watch as shares open on the Nasdaq. Photo: Trevor Collens

The University of New South Wales has overtaken the University of Sydney as the number one university preference for NSW school leavers.

The result, based on data released by the University Admissions Centre last week, is the first time UNSW has taken the school leavers’ top spot from ‘s oldest university, which retained first place for all first preferences including mature age students in November.

UNSW’s Vice-Chancellor, Ian Jacobs, said that the result reflected the acceleration of UNSW’s multi-million dollar investment in its 2025 plan to crack the world’s top 50 universities and increasing demand for its science and engineering courses.

“This has been built on many, many years of hard work,” said Professor Jacobs, who just completed his first year as UNSW Vice-Chancellor. “The students come in for open day and they see a university infrastructure that is now second to none.”

This year the university also lured students through appealing to their sense of security. Students were guaranteed a place if they scored above a designated ATAR for each course, months before the main round of offers are made on January 20.

Professor Jacobs added that the recent focus on the success of Atlassian, a technology company started by two UNSW graduates that floated for $8 billion on the US stock exchange in December, had also increased the visibility of the university among high school graduates.

“There was a lot of talk about the university’s quantum computing and renewable energy programs and, at the end of the year, there was a lot of talk about Atlassian and they [students] say ‘I want a piece of that’.”

The university’s school-leaver applications were up 4.4 per cent on last year’s, taking it to a total of 7739 students after an aggressive recruitment drive saw administrators speak to 2800 high school students since ATARs were released in December.

High-achieving students have been offered up to $22,000 in scholarships and feted at university receptions.

Jonathon Strauss, from the UNSW Future Students Office, said that some science courses had seen a 200 per cent increase in demand this year amid a shift towards future-orientated courses.

“You can’t get away from some of the traditions and reputation of an institution but students are now also seeking far richer information, such as the likelihood of getting a job after graduation.”

According to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, stands to make a $57.4 billion increase in GDP by shifting 1 per cent of the workforce into science and technology focused roles.

UNSW was not the only university to report an increased interest from school leavers.

Western Sydney University saw a five per cent increase in school leaver preferences, particularly in the fields of psychology, physiotherapy, nursing and midwifery, said the university’s Vice-President of People and Advancement, Angelo Kourtis.

The university, headquartered in Parramatta, rebranded itself last year to target high school graduates, with a slick television advertising campaign as well as a name and logo change from the University of Western Sydney.

Mr Kourtis said there had been fewer mature-age and non-school leaver applicants this year.

“Usually with strong economies mature-age students don’t seeking out as many higher education opportunities, because the economy is buoyant reskilling is not as prominent,” he said.

He said that there had been a shortfall in the number of applicants for teaching courses following tough new regulations on teacher benchmarks, including a requirement for three band-five HSC results instituted by NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli.

“What we have seen is a downturn in teacher education in primary and to a lesser extent secondary and that is to about the national debate around teacher standards,” he said.

The University of Sydney would not comment on school leavers first preference data.

“The University focuses on attracting the preferences of and admitting the most academically meritorious students,” said Deputy Vice-Chancellor Tyrone Carlin. 

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