The University of Sydney is a highly regarded and much-respected international university renowned for the quality of its research and teaching. As our staff and student surveys, interviews and focus group discussions have revealed, there is a genuine depth of affection for the University. It is an extraordinary institution that has left an enduring mark on our culture and on the lives of many who have passed through its halls. Our staff, students, alumni, friends and supporters want the University to do well. And they are proud of all that we have achieved together over the years. But all of the evidence suggests that they believe we can do better. They have identified weaknesses and shortcomings that they feel are holding us back. These views and opinions merit serious consideration.

This Green Paper has embraced the call to do better. This requires a frank assessment of our strengths and weaknesses, taking on board the views of all those urging us to undertake change. The Green Paper has sought to outline our mission, to consider in greater detail where our weaknesses lie, and to highlight some of the important strategies we might pursue and further conversations we will have to have over the next five years in order to put the University in a stronger position to do more to realise the potential of the ‘brightest researchers’ and ‘most promising students’. The University is clearly doing remarkably well in a complex and difficult higher education environment, nationally and internationally. The challenges ahead, however, are significant. It is vital that we meet them head on, and this will require us to do things differently in some areas from the way that we have done them before, which can be unsettling.

It is our view, however, that serious conversations about the strategic directions we need to pursue will be the basis for us to realise the extraordinary potential of our staff and students. If we, as a community, embrace the strategic directions outlined in this paper, refine them where necessary, and use this as a platform for genuine transformation, then we have every right to expect that the University will achieve more for its staff and students and the wider community. This is an institution that has made a wonderful contribution to our community. It can, if we chart the right direction, make an even greater contribution in the future.