VC’s update – Shaping the University’s future

20 April 2016

I want everyone in the ANU community to contribute to future plans of this university - because it is our collective effort that will realise this future.

Over coming weeks I will be calling on all of you to help create the new vision for the University.

I am asking you to be involved because the University's future belongs to all of us. I want everyone in the ANU community to contribute to future plans of this university - because it is our collective effort that will realise this future.

From today we will start with a series of town hall meetings and a draft vision, and I encourage you to register your attendance for one of the sessions on our Eventbrite pages - please see links below.

What we will talk about through those meetings is what it means to be Australia's national university. We will explore the big questions of what the University means to us, what it could be, what it should be, and where it is going.

Through the next part of the process, from May onwards, we will talk about how we will get there. We'll look at key areas of the University and where we need to focus our efforts to achieve our vision. We will look at the steps we should take to carry us forward.

I encourage you to keep watching this space. More details will be available shortly and I will keep you up to date on what is going on through this blog.

We will have a dedicated space on the ANU website where you will find information about when meetings are on, where we are up to, and how to give feedback and make submissions.

I am really looking forward to working with you as we forge our future together.

With best wishes



Register to attend

Sessions - please select session to go through to booking form.



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Comment by Nicholas Engerer
1.15pm 18 Apr 2016

Thank you Vice-Chancellor Schmidt for your inspiring, consultative approach to leadership.  I know many across the University who are looking forward to contributing.  By drawing from many brilliant and innovative minds, I am confident that The ANU will demonstrate strong leadership through this strategic vision.

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Comment by Pierre van der Eng
1.15pm 18 Apr 2016

Hello Brian,good to know that you intend to articulate a new and clear vision for the future of the ANU. Before many of our ANU colleagues sign up for the sessions and start the conversation with you, could you let us know whether your predecessors' vision "ANU by 2020", and particularly the many numerics in this visionary document, are now dead and buried? I am guessing, but that could well make it easier to conduct a constructive discussion with ANU staff. The document still lives on the ANU website, and we still have at least 4 years to go with this vision. FYI, it is here:

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Comment by Tom Worthington
1.15pm 18 Apr 2016

The future of university research and education is on-line. ANU can have more than 100,000 students on-line, without enlarging the campus, or compromising quality. However, this will require new skills of the academic and professional staff and involve teaching the students new skills. Last year I was asked to give the staff at Cambridge University (UK) a few quick tips:

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Comment by Tom Worthington
2.15pm 20 Apr 2016

The "Australian National University: Our Vision" at four pages is a little too long. It is useful for an organization to have a vision statement, but this should be less than one page. There is a danger of wasting too much time and taking such statements too seriously.

One problem with the draft ANU vision statement is that it refers to vague concepts such as "research-led" education. This phrase has been used in the past to refer to both general research informing education and specific research about education. There is more support for the latter than the former: the University of Canberra researched this issue and found that having an instructor who educational qualifications improves the grades of lower performing students.

The Functions of the University are set out in the Australian National University ACT (1991), Section 5. The Australian Parliament appears to have given ANU a suitable and broad mandate for national and regional development in a world context. If the ANU considers the legislation out of date, then the university needs to ask the Parliament (only a few kilometers away) change it. In representations to the Parliament, on behalf of my profession, I have found the MPs and Senators very willing to listen to a well argued case.

The form of university envisaged in the draft vision belong to the previous century. Australian needs an "ANU 2.0" which is an on-line university, supported by a campus. My suggestion is to "flip" the university to make "ANU 2.0", putting the emphasis on on-line teaching and research, turning it into a truly  global institution. What is being proposed so far is an "ANU 1.2": a campus based university with some minor enhancements added, when ANU could be so much more.

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Comment by Colin Simpson
2.45pm 20 Apr 2016

ANU's strength is research. We want to be a leader in education. Perhaps we need to support research into teaching and learning practices - both by academics as well as our expert professional staff.

I'm an education technologist, so obviously I have a bias but I do this job because I believe it has value. Technology enhanced learning and teaching practices - which extend far beyond using the unloved and unrespected virtual learning environment - have the potential to evolve education at our university.

Rather than treating education technology as something that can form a series of "announceables" that demonstrate our creativity and commitment to "innovation" in teaching, or as tools to be used to cut costs, we can augment current practices that work and create opportunities to support deeper learning and more meaningful engagement. Enhancing education needs to be seen as an investment and, as with research, we need to be willing to accept that some attempts will fail in the pursuit of longer term gains. Most importantly, if we are to be a great university, we need to nurture and support these practices and skills in our own people.

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Comment by Craig Savage
11am 21 Apr 2016

Colin Simpson's comments about the need to develop a research capacity in education are right on. It makes no sense to be a world class research university and not to engage in world class R&D for our other major activity - education. We know very well the payoff from research.

The draft vision statement has a disturbing asymmetry between research and education. Research is to be "regularly reviewed by external colleagues of the highest international caliber", and education isn't. Research areas will "aim to be in the top 20 in the world", and education areas won't. You get the idea. I know of no basis for this asymmetry, except ANU's historical circumstances.