I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a very happy and safe Christmas season and to thank you for your work over the last year, supporting the work of my academic portfolio.
This year has seen a strong performance by the academic portfolio, supporting the strategic objectives of ACU, positioning our university strongly both domestically and internationally. Highlights include:
ACU’s four faculties have driven enrolment growth, with ACU exceeding enrolment targets for the 2014 academic year, catering for more than 30,000 students (by headcount). Embedding enrolment growth has been a hallmark as well as diversity of offerings across campuses, funding sources and disciplines.
The enrolment planning approach, involving representatives across ACU has been strengthened during 2014, culminating in an Enrolment Policy as a key outcome. A strategic focus was taken by faculties in particular to shape anticipated load for 2015, including ACU strategic priorities, past enrolment trends and a range of external factors. The Enrolment Plan for 2015-2020 has been finalised and in the new year, communications relating to this important academic and university plan will be rolled-out.
Postgraduate offerings continued to strengthen in 2014 with a 23% increase in fee-paying postgraduate enrolments, compared to 2013, underpinned by the work of faculties supporting the Postgraduate Strategy.
Total international student load for 2014 has increased 11% on 2013.
The Canberra/Ballarat Academic Renewal began in 2014, via a Working Party chaired by me, with the long term aim to increase enrolments, by strengthening and diversifying by academic offerings at the campuses. This planning will continue in 2015 in alignment with campus master planning processes.
My portfolio will continue to support and collaborate with our faculties and others in ACU on quality processes for the Academic Board and its sub-committees to ensure academic rigour.
The Chair of the Academic Board continues to oversee in conjunction with faculties and OPSM, academic quality issues in preparation for the TEQSA re-registration process for ACU.
Additionally, the Course Load Review established in 2014 to investigate ACU courses and units with low load is reaching the concluding stages. The aim of this project was to reduce fragmentation and support greater viability of offerings.
Draft policies and procedures are under development, to inform enrolment planning for future years.
Retention work was completed its 2014 with seven specific initiatives approved which are expected to see increases in ACU’s retention rate.
Government Policy and Strategy
In an uncertain higher education landscape, ACU pursued its growth journey, with sound advice from the Office of Government, Policy and Strategy.
The Faculty of Education and Arts has managed during 2014, the “Agenda Education” program, including the establishment of the Centre for Teacher Quality and Leadership and the successful collaboration with the Catholic Education Office, Melbourne.
The Executive Dean, Faculty of Education and Arts has also commenced her term as President of the Australian Council of Deans of Education.
Work in 2014 has focused on the development of governance and operating arrangements for ACU Satellite Centres -sites where learning, teaching, research and/or services are provided for groups of current students or prospective students, but located away from the seven campuses.
An ACU wide Working Party chaired by me and involving wide representation across ACU has overseen the development and finalisation of new policy/procedures, an audit/register of current centres, a review of Satellite Centre models and the establishment of the ACU Leadership Centre, Brisbane. This Centre was launched on 18 November 2014 and involved the development of a business case, management plan and Steering Committee to oversight operations.
ACU continues to implement the Internationalisation Strategy with a focus on enhanced outcomes to support the strategic objectives of the university. Working closely with faculties, the International Directorate is leading a cohesive approach linked to diversification of enrolments, increased opportunities for international experiences for staff and students, as well as continued alignment with ACU’s mission.
Work is well underway to support ACU’s hosting of the 25th General Assembly of the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU), to be held in Melbourne, July 2015. The Assembly, in conjunction with related events, including the Presidents’ Roundtable and coinciding with ACU’s 25th anniversary; will showcase ACU’s role in the Higher Education landscape to an international audience.
Executive Education has been a real success story for 2014, with programs reaching over 1,200 senior leaders across Australia, since establishment, creating a new pipeline into ACU. Coupled with strong revenues, and strong industry partnerships, the Directorate’s Strategy will be further strengthened by the development of longitudinal plans developed in conjunction with each faculty for the coming years.
ACUcom has enjoyed a strong year, with enrolments up 10% on 2013. Staff and students are enjoying their new headquarters on the Melbourne campus.
Academic Partnerships continue to forge relationships with VET/RTOs and have created 20 new partnerships since the beginning of 2014.
Outcomes from the 12 month review of progress through the Futures Project including the academic realignment were endorsed by Senate in 2014. This report highlighted the significant effort that has gone into strengthening national structures across the four faculties, establishing new academy arrangements and bringing about business and other systems changes during a busy academic year.
The official opening of the Thomas More Law School Academy was a highlight with Justice French speaking on ‘the Idea of a Law School’, providing an overview of the life and contribution made by Thomas More. A key feature noted was the value of ACU’s small class sizes coupled with face-to-face teaching as key features in legal education.
My thanks to the faculties for supporting the Research Intensification process and working together with the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) to embed the Research Institutes within each faculty supporting the university’s strategic research approach.
It has been a very busy, yet successful 2014.
From my Office to yours, I wish you a productive and successful 2015 and I thank you for your dedicated efforts during 2014. I look forward to working with you next year.