I know you will all be anxiously awaiting further updates from the State Government on the current COVID-19 cluster in South Australia and we will keep you informed as to how the University will respond as the situation develops.
Here at Flinders we continue to navigate the pandemic crisis remarkably well and I would again thank all staff for their remarkable commitment and contributions. We will continue to focus on our future as we deal with the immediate impacts of any second wave with the safety of our staff and students remaining paramount. As Professor Clare Pollock noted yesterday, we must all maintain safe social distances, practice thorough hand hygiene, and stay at home if unwell.
Amidst the news of this cluster, the work of the University continues. Last week we held our Annual Performance and Accountability Cycle (APAC) meetings for all Colleges and Portfolios. The APAC process is an important part of our aim for continuous improvement and provides an opportunity for the Senior Executive Team to meet with the leadership teams from each College and Portfolio to discuss progress, challenges and future strategic directions. Many of you contributed to this process by contributing to reports or coming to the meetings for your College or Portfolio and I am grateful for the input of so many of you across the University.
The meetings highlighted some of the incredible achievements of 2020 as well as some areas of focus for the next 12 months.
Areas of University wide success:
- The Flinders University response to COVID-19 has been exemplary including a step-change in online learning;
- Colleges and Portfolios were able to rapidly respond to changing circumstances demonstrating a genuine commitment to a student-centred approach;
- Our focus on revenue growth has paid dividends and we will return a strong financial result for 2020;
- The research income won in 2020 is on track to be our best ever, with exceptional results in nationally competitive grants (Cat 1) and industry funding (Cat 3);
- Plans already underway to improve several “pain points” identified by staff, including research contract processing, grant management information for researchers, and the website;
- Communities of practice among College Deans, Directors of College Services and other groups are proving to be extremely valuable forums for the sharing of best practice across the institution; and
- There have been substantial improvements in the quality and accessibility of institutional performance data to help inform decision making.
Areas of focus for 2021:
- The development of a comprehensive rural and remote strategy to leverage our extensive network throughout SA and the NT;
- The need for a cohesive cross-college social sciences strategy for education and research;
- Implementation of a standardised model to appropriately incentivise and reward cross-college teaching activities;
- Support for Colleges in achieving external recognition of performance;
- The development of a comprehensive strategy for growth in HDR student numbers across the University;
- Strategic support for large research grant applications;
- Process improvement for the student recruitment interface between OCME, Student Recruitment and Colleges;
- Delivery of actions from our Reconciliation Action Plan and an increased focus on our commitment to champion diversity and equality of opportunity for peoples of all nations, cultures and backgrounds;
- An evidence-based strategic approach to the development of new courses based on data and market insights; and
- The development of a strategy for deeper and more meaningful industry engagement across the University.
While we continue to closely monitor developments relating to the pandemic, one thing I am sure of is that our commitment to student success and research excellence will continue regardless of the external circumstances.
We have shown we are capable of adapting quickly and effectively to changing circumstances and this will serve us well as we continue to work towards achieving our strategic vision.