UQ: Trailblazing the field of Occupational Health and Safety Science
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UQ: Trailblazing the field of Occupational Health and Safety Science

“After an initial settling-in period, Brisbane has truly become a home away from home for me. People were very welcoming and friendly, and I was delighted to find so many international students and Singaporeans at UQ.” – Elsie Cheong, UQ international student of the Faculty of Science, originally from Singapore

Consistently ranked within the Top 50 world-leading higher education providers, The University of Queensland (UQ) stands as one of Australia’s most prominent institutions. Frequently striving for excellence through the creation, preservation, transfer and application of knowledge, UQ has paved the way to a better world through its high-class academics for more than a century, producing powerful graduates who go on to have influence in virtually every professional sector.

“Our 50,000-plus students are engaged in more than 400 programs that foster curiosity, critical thinking, innovation and professional skills,” explains Professor Peter Høj, current Vice-Chancellor and President of the University. “When they graduate, UQ students are highly sought-after,” he says.

Citing the results of Graduate Career’s Australia’s 2015 Graduate Survey, he notes that more than 73 percent of UQ Australian bachelor degree graduates available for full-time work had secured full-time work within four months of completing courses, comparing favourably to the national average of 68.8 percent.

“The survey also found UQ graduates likely to earn starting salaries well above the Australian average,” he adds.

Among UQ’s most fresh and innovative provisions lies the suite of Occupational Health and Safety Science (OHS) programs, which are courses specifically-designed to promote safe working measures in industries worldwide. Too often the proportion of time the average person spends in the professional work environment is brushed aside and overlooked, making it vital for business leaders and employers to foster a safe and healthy professional work setting. When you consider that an estimated 2.2 million people perish each year due to work-related accidents or diseases, and that many more suffer serious workplace illnesses or injuries, the majority of which are undeniably preventable, UQ’s OHS portfolio is not only intensely applicable to the complex modern world, but also potentially life-saving for millions of unsuspecting workers around the globe.


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“By helping improve safety we feel we will be making a significant impact on people’s lives,” says Nurul Jasmine Shaifful Anuar, a native Malaysian student studying UQ’s Bachelor of Occupational Health and Safety Science (Honours) program. Nurul Jasmine is one four students specially-selected to complete this program by PETRONAS, a Malaysian oil and gas company that has sponsored deserving students under its Education Sponsorship program since 1975, making it one of Malaysia’s major corporate sponsors for education.

“These scholarships are regarded as the most prestigious, so we are fortunate and thankful to have been chosen,” adds Nurul Jasmine. “We were also sponsored to undertake Year 12 College studies in Malaysia for 18 months, which was great preparation for our studies at UQ.”

From 2017 students will also have the option to complete a 1.5 or 2 year Master of Occupational Health and Safety Science program, the postgraduate counterpart of UQ’s ground-breaking course. Dr Margaret Cook of the institution’s says the new program is modelled on the structure and success of UQ’s globally-recognised Bachelor program of the same name, giving students the chance to excel at every level of this rapidly-growing field.

“Our programs have been developed in response to industry demands and enable students to learn from some of Australia’s leading OHS experts,” Dr Cook says. “Our graduates are highly-qualified professionals with a wealth of job opportunities across Australia and internationally,” she notes.

“OHS qualifications open doors to a diverse range of industries such as agriculture, construction, mining, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, retail, tourism and transport,” she explains, adding that, “Two-thirds of this year’s graduating undergraduate honours class have already accepted jobs with a range of employers, including Lendlease, Multiplex, Woodside Energy, Watpac, Swire and Safe Work Australia.”


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On a day-to-day basis, OHS alumnae who find themselves in professional positions can expect to be heavily involved in health and safety audits and inspections, as well as the modification and monitoring of hazards in the workplace, the designing of work environments, incident investigations and the deliverance of specific education or training programs. Some OHS experts can even choose to concentrate their studies in a more specialised area such as occupational hygiene, ergonomics, occupational health, occupational safety and beyond.

And as Senior Lecturer, Dr Kelly Johnstone points out, previous findings from an Australian National Safety Recruitment Salary Survey showed that the average wages of OHS professionals to be at least 90 percent above the average Australian salary, highlighting the boundless prospects laid out for new graduates kick-starting their career within the discipline. According to the survey, the average salary package can range from AU$71,997 for graduates, to a hefty AU$300,939 for OHS group managers.

UQ’s OHS offerings represent just one example of how the University’s unique ability to meet industry demand helps graduates soar straight to the top. As Professor Høj concludes, “All these elements – outstanding teaching, scholarships, support, flexibility and choice in programs, and extra-curricular benefits – come together to create a transformational student experience.

“Our students are the emerging leaders who will help shape tomorrow’s world and create change.”

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