UNSW announces first investments in $3B 2025 Strategy implementation

UNSW has announced a major investment in staff, students and systems as it begins implementing its ambitious 2025 Strategy. The 10-year plan aims to position UNSW as Australia’s global university, among the world’s best.

Lab students

Photo: UNSW Media

UNSW has announced a major investment in staff, students and systems as it begins implementing its ambitious 2025 Strategy. The 10-year plan – a result of extensive consultation – aims to position UNSW as Australia’s global university, among the world’s best.

The implementation phase follows a detailed analysis of the University’s operations. Overall, UNSW plans to invest $3 billion in priority areas of research excellence, teaching innovation, social engagement and global impact by 2025.

“Now that the 2025 Strategy planning stage is complete, the University’s management and Council have agreed on the next steps in a phased implementation process over the coming decade,” UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs said.

“What we are announcing today is the first in a series of major investments in the University’s growth. It will result in new opportunities, improved education and research performance, and operational excellence.

“UNSW is a great institution with a proud history of achievement. Our task is not only to uphold that history but to set the standard of what a 21st century global university can achieve,” Professor Jacobs said.

Among the initiatives funded are: the recruitment of world-class researchers and PhD scholars; proposals for new education-focused career pathways for academics; a proposal for an innovative new academic calendar; sector leading educational innovation and the digitisation of 600 courses; and a new approach to delivering services across the University.

Professor Jacobs said engagement with staff on the details of the proposals, model options, and a timetable for implementation will begin with a series of town hall meetings next week.

“We will actively engage and consult on the proposed model for academic career pathways and a new academic calendar, and on key elements of service delivery across the University, which include human resources, IT, finance, procurement, facilities management, marketing and communications, and philanthropy.”

While the strategy involved a large number of initiatives, implementation would be carefully planned and phased over a number of years, Professor Jacobs said.

“The scale and ambition of the strategy involves significant change, with the objective of establishing UNSW as a top 50 university. Above all, this is a growth strategy – more than 60% of our additional investment will be on people and we anticipate that by 2025 the overall workforce will expand by 8%.

“Change on this scale will provide exciting opportunities for staff, but it will also be challenging for some and not all jobs will stay the same. We are committed to engage and consult with staff, as well as providing support as these changes are implemented,” Professor Jacobs said.

Proposed new initiatives include:

  • Academic recruitment: the World Changers recruitment initiative, which began in February, will be sustained over coming years. Overall, $1.4 billion is being committed to attract 100 world-class researchers and their teams at professorial level; 290 outstanding early and mid-career academics as Scientia Fellows; and 700 PhD scholarships with generous supporting funds.
     
  • Academic specialisation: increased opportunities for those staff who wish to pursue a research focused or education focused career pathway. The proposed education focused pathway would have equal career status to research with a clearly defined progression framework up to professor level.
     
  • Academic calendar: engagement with staff on a proposal to introduce an innovative new calendar in 2019 to allow students to focus on fewer subjects at a time, provide greater flexibility and increased opportunities for students. Several options have been considered with a favoured approach similar to those at Stanford and UCLA involving three terms plus an optional summer term.
     
  • Enhanced educational offerings: investment of $75 million in teaching platforms and learning spaces supported by the digitisation of 600 courses over the next 5 years to improve the quality, flexibility and personalisation of student curricula.
     
  • Operational excellence: a review of 15 service areas across the university has identified key strengths and well as key challenges – inconsistency of service experience, duplication of roles and functions, job levels that don’t align, and unclear career paths for professional staff. The University will invest more than $100 million by 2025 in strengthening services across campus. The proposed changes include more shared services, refinement of existing models in a number of functional areas, more efficient processes and better-aligned career paths. Broad engagement and consultation with staff will extend to mid-2017 and beyond.

As outlined in the 2025 Strategy, approximately half of the funds required for the plan’s implementation will be generated through new income from philanthropy, education and industry. The remaining funding will be sourced from reprioritising strategic and capital funds and through greater efficiencies in operational services.