A showcase of innovation

Held in Macquarie Theatre last Thursday 24 September, the Annual Conference and all-staff exhibition was a day to reflect on our experiences, discover new opportunities, and a look to how we will meet the challenges ahead to ensure our learning and teaching, and research and discovery success continues.

The day was divided into an exhibition space in the foyer open to all staff. Here, teams showcased their hard work and provided insight into how they align with our strategic initiatives and priorities. The Conference featured a series of insightful discussions by our executive leaders on our progress in some of our priority areas and future vision for the University to an audience of senior staff who were tasked with reporting back to their areas on what they learned.

“I have been the Vice-Chancellor of this University now for three years, and it remains the most rewarding experience of my professional career,” says Professor S Bruce Dowton as he opened the conference. “We are here to serve the big questions facing society, and our challenge is to be responsive and nimble in addressing them.”

Among the presentations, the Vice-Chancellor, COO Dr Paul Schreier and CFO John Gorman led a panel discussion exploring the economic outlook for higher education globally, and how that might affect the budget and financial reality of the Australian sector and Macquarie University in particular.

“There will be very significant global demand for graduates in the future,” says Dr Schreier, “and we are in the business of supplying them. There is a great opportunity for us if we are able to seize it.” Nonetheless, the panellists spoke of the need for financial restraint throughout 2016.

“Our annual surplus is reinvested every year into capital works and improvements, and that is how we finance the long-term future of the University. We must work to improve our surplus in 2016 and that will involve some tight budget decisions next year,” says the Vice-Chancellor.

This year’s budget has been adversely affected by a reduction in international student enrolments, but the panel indicated that there were signs of improvement for next year. “The upturn in international recruitment hasn’t happened yet, but early indications are that 2016 will see a growth in our international student numbers,” says Dr Schreier.

Director of Strategic Planning, Associate Professor James Rabeau, says the event was a truly engaging and informative experience for all in attendance. “The all-staff exhibition was an exciting showcase of on the ground action occurring across campus. The exhibition is an important vehicle through which our entire community can learn about the development and implementation of Strategic Initiatives and discuss progress. I spoke with many staff at the exhibition keen to gauge their thoughts, and all were impressed with the depth and quality of the displays on show,” he says.

Conference presentations highlighted areas of key strategic significance, including Learning and Teaching, Academic Health and the Business Process Improvement Initiative, to provide insight into how Our University: A Framing of Futures is being realised. One of the many highlights from the Conference was a panel discussion which included external corporate partners Optus and Abbott Australasia who gave their perspective on how to better connect academia with industry.

“We were fortunate to get real external views, and a clearer sense of the importance and emphasis the University is placing on industry engagement,” says Associate Professor Rabeau.

Did you attend the all-staff exhibition? Tell us what you think.

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