Strategy Fourteen (August 2012 update)

Develop and implement a coordinated university-wide framework for local and rural community engagement

Our engagement in both local and rural areas is diverse and valuable, from research and outreach to student placement and professional development. As we deepen our commitment to engaged enquiry, our aim is to identify those local and rural communities with which we can most fruitfully partner across a range of initiatives. We will identify a number of communities with whom we have existing links, particularly those where we already have a physical presence, and build stronger University-wide cooperation with them across a range of activities.

Although hampered by financial constraints from pursuing some initiatives in this strategy, at a practical level the University has built on staff enthusiasm and some strong existing community partnerships to develop much deeper links in both education and research with industry and business communities and with identified local and rural communities.

14(a) Establish an Office of Community Engagement to create and cultivate meaningful and sustainable community partnerships, consistent with our research and education mission.

14(b) Conduct an audit of current community engagement programs throughout the University, including those in rural and remote areas, to focus future activity in community engagement.

The establishment of an Office of Community Engagement has been deferred. The decision was taken in the context of, first, financial constraint and, second, as a result of the decision to review the terms of reference and composition of the SEG Community Engagement Committee, with a decision to be taken by the end of 2012.

Similarly, the audit of the University’s current community engagement programs is on hold, pending the outcome of the review of the Community Engagement Committee.

14(c) Identify a sustainable number of projects that include opportunities for education and research activities (in consultation with external groups) that will directly engage local residents, students, staff and alumni.

The University has begun to apply the principles of engaged enquiry and mutual accountability in developing academic partnerships with communities in rural and remote Australia. This effort has concentrated on two pillars of activity. First, a Rural Education Strategy Committee was established to work collaboratively with a number of identified communities with which we have existing links, particularly those where there is already a physical presence, to increase University-wide cooperation across a range of teaching and learning activities.

Second, we have started to build on the ‘service-led learning’ model adopted at the University Department of Rural Health (UDRH) in Broken Hill by encouraging our non-health disciplines to expand work-integrated learning opportunities for students who go on placement to Broken Hill. This model is premised on an integrated approach to addressing complex health, economic, justice and social issues in remote locations. Importantly, the community – residents, business, schools and government agencies – plays a strong participatory role in the partnership underpinning the educational model.

The relationship between the University and Broken Hill was cemented in February 2012, when we signed a memorandum of understanding with Broken Hill City Council to formalise these existing partnerships and facilitate further collaborative efforts.

14(d) Embed strategies for community-engaged learning within the curricula of the University through the process of curriculum renewal.

Working in close partnership with the participating pilot faculties (see strategy 3), SEG’s Curriculum and Course Planning Committee working party on curriculum renewal has ensured that this key curriculum principle is adopted in any renewal process. So far, the Business School has achieved internships and work placement components for credit as part of its curriculum renewal, and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is working with the engaged enquiry scholars’ network to find similar opportunities.

14(e) Increase our stakeholders’ understanding of the University’s mission, goals and messages through the implementation of an integrated marketing and communications plan.

Research conducted during the 2008–09 Brand Project indicated that the University’s brand was very fragmented, and that our many stakeholder groups were unsure of our strengths and distinctiveness. In 2011, SEG approved both a refinement of the University’s brand position and an integrated marketing and communications strategy for the University. This strategy articulated six marketing goals, with associated tactics, expected outcomes and measures. These goals are: build and maintain the University’s global brand and reputation; drive and promote the University’s role in shaping Australia’s national and international agenda; recruit the most promising students from a diversity of social and cultural backgrounds; capture and retain loyalty and advocacy throughout the student lifecycle; foster engagement and active support among priority stakeholders and key opinion leaders; and develop a professional, world-class marketing community that is engaged with all areas of the University.

In May 2012, the University also received the first in a series of reports resulting from a comprehensive market research project to track our ‘brand health’, and briefings have begun to inform relevant staff about the findings and their implications. Further work has commenced to refine our key message strategy for each market segment. This market research will be repeated every two years to measure changes over time in perceptions of the University and to guide future marketing and communications activities.

14(f) Include in the campus master planning process consideration of the infrastructure required to create and sustain a viable cultural precinct.

The creation of a viable cultural precinct has been included for active consideration in the campus master planning process. In particular, Campus Infrastructure and Services (CIS) is scoping the potential value of the adaptive reuse of the Macleay and Edgeworth David buildings. It is anticipated that proposals will be developed as part of the SEG capital prioritisation process. Fundraising strategies are also in the planning stage with a view to developing concrete proposals for action.