USQ shoots for the stars with new Astronomy program

15 November 2012
Francesca Powell was over the moon with USQ's solar eclipse community viewing in Toowoomba

As thousands of hopeful astronomers looked to the sky this week for a rare partial solar eclipse, the University of Southern Queensland finalised plans to offer an Astronomy study program from 2013.

USQ has for some time been looking to expand its teaching and research strengths in Astronomy and will take the opportunity to transition to USQ James Cook University’s Master of Astronomy program, which JCU has decided to cease offering.

USQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Jan Thomas said it was an exciting time for USQ’s Faculty of Sciences, which already boasts world-renowned Astronomers and researchers, such as Dr Brad Carter.

“As Australians come together to cast their eyes to the sky for this magnificent solar eclipse, what better time than now to make this landmark announcement for USQ,” Professor Thomas said.

The Vice-Chancellor said the new postgraduate Master of Science (Astronomy) program would complement USQ’s existing undergraduate and postgraduate offerings in the field.

The new Masters program will also be enhanced by USQ’s world class Mt Kent Observatory, located near the Toowoomba campus.

“Students studying externally through USQ from anywhere on the planet can use our remote access robotic Mt Kent Observatory,” Professor Thomas said.

“The fact that JCU’s Master of Astronomy program was run as a completely external offering will suit USQ perfectly, considering this University’s significant experience and expertise in external education.

“USQ is a world leader in external education and this new Astronomy program will be just another feather in the University’s cap.”

The Centre for Astronomy was part of James Cook University's School of Engineering and Physical Sciences and the Head of School Professor Yinghe He said that following JCU’s renewal of its Strategic Intent, the Centre no longer really fitted.

“We were unable to continue to support the centre,” Professor He said.

“JCU is now working closely with the University of Southern Queensland to ensure that all astronomy students enrolled through JCU are properly supported after the transfer.”

For more information about studying Astronomy, or any other field at USQ, visit:

Media contact:
Jim Campbell,, 07 4631 2977

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