Message from the Chancellery: Winter 2018

25 May 2018

It is the conceit of members of every generation to think the times they live in are extraordinary, unprecedented and unpredictable. I recall that my generation had that conceit, as we gave wide-eyed witness to Watergate, the Vietnam War, the emergence of punk, the Cold War, and the Cultural Revolution.

Nonetheless, for the generation now studying at or considering university, the conceit aligns very closely with the facts. 

Young people are learning, maturing, and sizing up their futures in an age sometimes called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, when global geopolitics are at a tipping point and disruption is becoming the norm.

For a university conceived at a time when a degree was a rarity and a professor’s biggest concern was a lack of blackboard chalk, this age is both exciting and challenging. 

How will The University of Queensland (UQ) serve current and future generations of students so that they graduate with a set of knowledge and skills that enable them to make career choices, find satisfaction, contribute to society, continue learning, segue into new careers, or found enterprises? 

How will UQ simultaneously generate outstanding research and innovation, establish a sustainable and resilient financial base, and remain an institution in which alumni of all generations take pride?

These complexities, and others, are faced in the UQ Strategic Plan 2018–2021. As a headline document it looks beyond 2021, articulating the long-term objectives of transforming students into game-changing graduates, delivering globally significant solutions, and developing a diverse community of knowledge seekers and leaders. 

The plan remains true to UQ’s core values and its vision of knowledge leadership for a better world. It has been endorsed by UQ’s governing body, the Senate (which has a role comparable to a board in the corporate world). We also endorsed a set of key performance indicators and targets, which will be regularly reviewed. 

The metrics will reflect progress in a wide range of areas, including graduate full-time employment rates, the extent to which researchers collaborate with non-academic partners, greater source-country diversity among international students, participation and success rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, representation of women at senior academic levels, the percentage of research publications with an international co-author, and the percentage of domestic students from regional or remote areas.

I can see abundant opportunities for the involvement of alumni who wish to continue fuelling the success of their alma mater, particularly the experiences of students and recent graduates. Their capacity to thrive and contribute to society will reflect how well this university, born in the time of the manual telephone exchange, is addressing the needs of the smartphone and artificial intelligence century.

Peter Varghese AO, Chancellor