University of Canberra Strategic Plan 2008-2012

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(adopted by the University Council at its meeting of 7 December 2007).

Context[edit | edit source]

In our first forty years as an educational institution the University has achievements of which we can be justly proud. Over 60 000 students have graduated from us, and many have gone on to senior and responsible careers in the public service, commerce and the professions. Others have become prominent writers, journalists, performers and sports men and women. As the period covered by this Plan commences, we rank in the top third of Australian universities under the Commonwealth Government’s Learning and Teaching Performance Fund. Our research strengths in ecology and the modelling of social and economic change have an international reputation.

The year in which this Plan was developed (2007) became seen as a turning point. Declining student load, and to a lesser extent student enrolments, had led to budgetary difficulties and the need to re-think our future. We restructured our academic units and administrative services. We reviewed our curriculum. We thought hard about a distinctive, differentiated mission for the University. We made plans for the development of our campus over the next ten years.

We undoubtedly face some challenges:

  • To attract sufficient students in a period when the proportion of the population of traditional university age has been diminishing, the actual size of the 0-19 population in the ACT has reduced, and the share of the population with an undergraduate or postgraduate degree is already far higher than the national average;
  • To deliver courses in a way that best suits the busy life of modern students;
  • To attract and retain research-active educators who will improve the University's academic performance;
  • To invest in information technologies which can promote our education, research and administration; and
  • To measure, contain and offset our impact on the environment.

Outweighing these challenges are important comparative advantages we enjoy over many universities of our generation.

  • Our Name: We carry the name of the nation's capital, and this in itself is an asset, particularly internationally;
  • Our City: Canberra is the exemplar of a designed, knowledge-based city-state in a service economy, from which we can draw inspiration;
  • Our Location: We are centrally located in the Australian Capital Territory and close to all the public sector and national institutions in the capital;
  • Our People: We have a University community with high levels of professional experience and active professional networks;
  • Our Supporters: Many of our graduates occupy leadership positions in federal and local government, national institutions and the professions: here and overseas. Many others who are not graduates of the University would welcome a university dedicated to supporting professional people who serve the public;
  • Our Disciplines: Many of our disciplines are not offered by the other local tertiary institutions, and there is further inter-disciplinary potential within the University which is also not open to them; and
  • Our Campus: We have a large, under-developed site in an area of appreciating land values which for all practical purposes will never be fully required for direct educational and research purposes.

Along with only a few other capital cities around the world, Canberra is most dominated by public administrations, national institutions and organisational headquarters, and by private businesses and professions which exist to support them and their workforce. We can offer professional education and applied research tailored to the needs of a distinctive capital city, with all its international, national and local dimensions.

Although we have an older competitor university locally - which has been specially funded for research for over 50 years - its national focus should be on theoretical and pure research across many disciplines. Our focus for inquiry should be on the nature and delivery of knowledge-based and creative services for the various communities of a capital city and its regions.

Canberra will benefit from two, strong, differentiated universities.

We can realistically aim to be amongst the world's best universities at understanding, researching and educating for responsible public administration and services: whether those services be governmental, environmental, educational, health-related, creative or in the course of business.

Our discipline strengths enable us to take fully into account the wider context of globalisation, political insecurity and danger to the environment.

To achieve this, we need to re-make ourselves. We need strategies that:

  • strengthen the University's capabilities, responsiveness and competitiveness;
  • respond to demographic and social change by making us more attractive to changing student populations;
  • deliver the best possible service to students, most of whom are paying all or a significant proportion of the cost of their education and who may in the future have greater choice about where to study;
  • enable us to take advantage of projections that international students wanting to study in Australia will nearly double by 2025;
  • ensure we have a well-deserved reputation for high quality education;
  • promote the quality, quantum and impact of our research, in an era where this is publicly measured and contributes significantly to the standing of the University in the world; and
  • give us choices about potential partners for sustainability and growth.

This Plan sets out a ten-year vision and the strategies and steps proposed for the first five years to re-make ourselves as an institution, capitalise on our inheritance and comparative advantages and achieve an ambition to be a world-class university of the capital city.

Purpose[edit | edit source]

The University of Canberra is the university of the capital city. Our role is to serve Canberra, its surrounding communities and its partners through education and research. In doing so, we reflect the different dimensions of Canberra:

  • the nation's capital and the international implications of that status;
  • the seat of government and public administration;
  • the home of national cultural, scientific and sporting institutions;
  • a symbol of Australian identity;
  • a designed and landscaped city; and
  • a local community committed to a sustainable, educated, healthy, prosperous life.

We share many features of other high quality universities, but the way we reflect the dimensions of a unique city differentiates us from all other Australian universities.

Values[edit | edit source]

We value:

  • service to our students and our disciplines;
  • education as a transformative experience for all people irrespective of their origins, age and circumstances, to be used for the public good;
  • research which has as its end the improvement of culture, society and the natural environment, for the benefit of generations yet to be born.
  • vocational relevance to longstanding and emerging professions; and
  • entrepreneurial spirit that drives innovation and growth.

Vision[edit | edit source]

By 2018 the University of Canberra will be internationally recognised for its research-led education in public administration and services; whether those services be governmental, environmental, educational, health-related, creative or in the course of business. We will draw students and researchers from around the world because of our reputation for programs which meet the current needs of modern governments, public services and the professions which support them. Specifically:

  • we will be ranked in the upper half of Australian universities in reputable institutional indices, and in the top third for our educational performance;
  • we will have 10,000 full-time equivalent students, with average funding 20% higher in real terms than in 2008;
  • we will have a campus community with a vibrant cultural and recreational life, famous internationally for its musical events and festivals;
  • we will have excellent sporting facilities and be home to sporting clubs from inside and outside the University;
  • we will be at the heart of the Bruce Precinct, which will be a centre of innovation, education, research and health services, with a sustainable ecological footprint;
  • our main campus will accommodate numerous public, non-profit and private enterprises which contribute to the University's education and research activities and to a thriving university community in an Australian setting;
  • we will use information and communication technologies to their full potential;
  • our courses will be known for the way they prepare professional people professionally, through work-based learning and collaborative teaching with external agencies;
  • our research and creative practices will be applied to making the world a better and more secure place for all its inhabitants.

Progress[edit | edit source]

We will have reached this position in two stages.

In the period covered by this Plan, 2008-12, we will strengthen the organisation's foundations, increase our student numbers to 9000 full-time equivalents, consolidate our ranked position on educational indicators, improve our research performance and engage more effectively with our constituencies. We will have invested $100 million during this period, in addition to our normal operating revenues, to implement the strategies which follow and thus revitalised the University.

By the beginning of the period 2013-17 we will be in a position to invest massively in people, curriculum and infrastructure, through growth in course fees, consulting and research income, and revenues generated directly and indirectly by the campus. The basic metric of total revenue divided by total student load will be rising, and we will be on track for an increase of 20% in real terms compared with 2008. OUR PLANNING

Ours is a planned future. We have:

  • a ten-year vision for the University and its campus;
  • five strategies covering the first five years;
  • an academic plan which describes how we will implement the academic strategies;
  • a capability plan which describes how we will implement the organisational strategies; and
  • operational plans which describe detailed actions annually and how we will resource them.

This framework, depicted in the pyramid below, is underpinned by a Quality Cycle designed to ensure continuous improvement. UC Planning Pyramid

Stategies[edit | edit source]


Step 1: Ensure that respect for Australia's traditional owners and concern for their current circumstances influences our plans and actions.

Step 2: Create a great workplace which attracts, engages and retains excellent, entrepreneurial, diverse staff committed to higher education and research with public purposes, in a collegial environment.

Step 3: Implement a Quality Cycle and Framework to assure and improve continuously the quality of what we do.

Step 4: Streamline our procedures and cost structures, making full use of information technologies and eliminating paper transactions wherever possible.

Step 5: Introduce a Budget Model based on cost allocation, which links resources, strategy and outcomes.

Step 6: Encourage a service-oriented culture designed to meet the needs of our students and other stakeholders.

Step 7: Diversify and extend our sources of revenue by making full use of our campus, commercial opportunities arising from our teaching and research, and the support of our alumni.

Step 8: Create an endowment fund into which proceeds from the development of the campus can be put, for the long-term benefit of the University.

Step 9: Eliminate our deferred maintenance backlog.

Step 10: Begin implementation of the Campus Masterplan 2008.

Step 11: Maintain a clear scheme for the performance development and review of all staff, designed to promote career development and reward high achievement.

Step 12: Improve our domestic and international marketing capacity and impact.

Step 13: Re-position the University in the minds of our communities, stakeholders and markets as Australia's Capital University: the university of and for the capital city.

STRATEGY 2 - INCREASE OUR STUDENT LOAD TO 9000 EFTSL BY 2013[edit | edit source]

Step 14: Develop and implement an ambitious student equity and access agenda.

Step 15: Provide a great student experience, appropriate to the age, stage, background and circumstances of a diverse student population.

Step 16: Introduce a new curriculum from 2009 comprising courses at which we can be distinctively good, which are in demand and which fit with our position as Australia's Capital University.

Step 17: Review our semester system and modalities of course delivery with a view to being attractive to new kinds of well-qualified students.

Step 18: Make the best use of educational technologies and work-based learning opportunities.

Step 19: Strengthen our relationships with Senior Secondary Colleges and Institutes of Technical and Further Education to promote entry into and articulation with the University's courses.

Step 20: Develop University of Canberra College as a pathway for students who lack the immediate qualifications for direct entry to the University.

Step 21: Develop profitable articulation pathways and transnational education programs with high quality overseas universities, with whom we can also collaborate in research or consultancy.

Step 22: Improve strategies and practices for recruiting domestic and international students.

Step 23: Increase the availability of high quality, affordable residential accommodation on and near the campus.


Step 24: Improve students' overall satisfaction with the experience of their course, as measured in the Course Experience Questionnaire.

Step 25: Improve students' satisfaction with our teaching, as measured in the Course Experience Questionnaire.

Step 26: Improve students' satisfaction with the way we help them develop generic skills, as measured in the Course Experience Questionnaire.

Step 27: Improve graduates' rates of further study, as measured in the Graduate Destinations Survey. STRATEGY 4 - PERFORM IN THE TOP HALF OF UNIVERSITIES ON PER CAPITA RESEARCH MEASURES ($10m)

Step 28: Provide research training places and post-doctoral fellowships to increase our research output and develop the next generation of potential academic staff members.

Step 29: Devise a workload model which ensures that all academic staff members engage in high quality and high impact research but which also frees up the time of our most successful researchers.

Step 30: Increase the research degree qualifications of academic staff.

Step 31: Strengthen the University's research culture, through mentoring, staff development and appropriate standards in the selection, confirmation, promotion and time-release of academic staff.

Step 32: Increase the University's research income, and ensure that an appropriate amount of the extra revenue which this generates is returned for the benefit of successful researchers' work.

Step 33: Develop the Institute for Applied Ecology and the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling into world-class, cross-faculty research entities by 2012, and create at least three further national-best, cross-faculty research groupings.


Step 34: Internationalise our curriculum, culture, relationships and outlook.

Step 35: Expand our relationships in East Asia and South Asia.

Step 36: Establish The University of Canberra Centre for the Capital City ("UC4"), as an embodiment of our commitment to Canberra, its heritage and future, and as a vehicle for collaboration with key capital cities, including Beijing and New Delhi.

Step 37: Develop strategies in an Engagement Plan to strengthen our relations with alumni, government, the public sector, business and industry, and the cultural, sporting and social welfare communities.

Step 38: Encourage collaboration in teaching and research with the Australian National University, the Australian Catholic University, the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Canberra Institute of Technology.

Step 39: Set and meet ambitious targets and standards, as a signatory to the Talloires Declaration, to reduce our ecological footprint.