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Leadership for a better future

Designing the framework for our shared aspirations
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Our strategy is simple: to create a place where the best researchers and most promising students can achieve their full potential. 

What does our strategy mean for you?

No matter what course you’re studying, what faculty you work for, or how you’re involved with the University, our strategy is relevant to you.

The University's strategic plan is more than a high-level document for our governing bodies and senior management. It is the roadmap to achieving our shared vision.

2016–20 Strategic Plan

We published our 2016-20 Strategic Plan in March 2016 following a wide-ranging consultation with our staff, students and other key stakeholders.

The plan continues the trajectory that began almost 170 years ago with our twin founding commitments to excellence and public service. By 2020 we will

  • invest in outstanding research, ensuring that our best work – work of national, regional and international impact – is well supported with the right people, equipment, and physical infrastructure
  • deepen our commitment to undergraduate education with a reinvigorated curriculum, so that our graduates will develop the skills, knowledge and values they need to thrive and lead in a rapidly changing world
  • build a University-wide culture where our staff and students are able to realise their full potential.

The 2016–20 strategy builds on our progress under our previous five-year plan. Download The University of Sydney 2011–15 Strategic Plan Performance Report (PDF, 407MB).



Our vision is unashamedly aspirational, aiming to position the University of Sydney as the best university in Australia and a leading institution globally.
Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor and Principal

Planning for 2020 timeline

  • March 2015

    Senior Executive Group strategy retreat

    Launch of monthly consultation meetings with staff unions and regular presentations to Student Consultative Committee
  • March–June

    1200+ staff attended 11 VC ‘town hall’ meetings across faculties and professional staff portfolios
  • March–April

    5000+ responses to survey of staff and students to inform further consultation. Read a summary of the results prepared by research firm Colmar Brunton.
  • March–October

    Regular strategy presentations to Academic Board, heads of school and discipline, faculty managers, Alumni Council, Campaign Board
  • April

    Vice-Chancellor forums with faculty-based staff

    Vice-Chancellor presentations to faculty managers and Campaign Board
  • April–November

    External engagement with research partners, industry and business organisations, community organisations, SMEs, employers, recruiters, entrepreneurs, government representatives, overseas alumni, technology and telecommunications firms
  • May

    Senior Executive Group strategy session

    Continuation of Vice-Chancellor forums with faculty-based staff and professional staff

    Strategy presentations to Alumni Council and Student Representative Council

    DVC (Education) meetings with major graduate employers
  • June

    Launch of discussion paper series. 7000+ downloads Discussion paper 1: Developing a distinctive undergraduate education (116KB PDF)
  • June–October

    600+ staff and student attendees at open focus groups on discussion papers; supporting online Yammer forums for staff
  • June–August

    400+ staff and students participate in dedicated values workshops
  • June–November

    250+ in-depth interviews to inform our education strategy with major graduate employers, high school principals, current University students, domestic and international high school students, parents and careers advisers
  • July

    Discussion paper 2: Investing in research excellence (2.1MB PDF)

    Senior Executive Group strategy session

  • August

    Publication of discussion papers 3 and 4 Building a culture of educational excellence (2.6MB PDF) and Building a culture of research excellence (2.9MB PDF)
  • August–November

    20+ consultation meetings on organisational design with all faculties (plus Academic Board, professional staff, medical research institutes and local health districts).
  • End August

    Senate strategy retreat
  • September

    Publication of discussion papers 5 A culture built on our values (PDF 3.9MB).

    Publication of discussion paper 6 Improving our organisational design (PDF 2.1MB)

  • September–December

    Prepare and refine draft strategy
  • October

    Senior Executive Group strategy retreat
  • November

    Culture workshop with 250 members of University leadership community
  • December

    Senior Executive Group strategy session

    Senate meets to discuss draft strategy, and approves changes to organisation of academic administration (reducing number of faculties from 16 to six, with three additional schools)
  • March 2016

    Senate approval of strategy. Launch of 2016–20 Strategic Plan