Strategic Plan 101 – AUSA’s Guide to the Strategic Plan Position Papers

The University of Auckland is in the process of developing its next Strategic Plan. Essentially what this means is the University is in the process of setting its big goals for the next five years and statements about what it wants to be like in the future. 

A Strategic Plan talks in terms of statements of aspiration. Common phrases are things like “having a diverse student body of the highest academic potential”. A Strategic Plan will set out the broad objectives that the University wants to achieve, highlight key actions needed to make these things happen and include measurable targets to track progress. 

The University is currently in the process of seeking feedback which will inform its Strategic Plan for the next five years. The way it is doing this is by seeking feedback from the University community (staff and students) on a series of Position Papers covering five different aspects of what it means to be a University. These Position Papers set out the current context of where the University is performing in respect of these different areas and, most importantly, asks a series of questions (which Dawn affectionately calls “challenge questions”). The idea is that the answer to these questions will inform what direction the University takes in its Strategic Plan. 

There are five Position Papers: 

  1. Education 
  2. Engagement 
  3. Research and Innovation 
  4. People and Culture 
  5. Sustainability

This paper is here to provide a quick summary on the key concepts of each of the Position Papers and to provide some guidance in providing feedback. 

Education 

The Education Position Paper is seeking feedback on education in as broad a sense as possible – everything from teaching and learning quality to programme creation and the non-academic student experience. 

The Education Paper is interested in curriculum and programme delivery, the connection between research and teaching, supporting and working with our Māori and Pasifika communities, integrating employability into the curriculum and utilising technology to enhance the on-campus experience. 

From a student perspective, feedback on this paper could focus on: 

  • what criteria should the University use to determine what programmes and courses it offers – should it be guided purely by student demand, it’s role as a critic and conscience of society or other factors? 
  • what kind of student experience do we want our students to have and what is needed to create this? 
  • how should our commitment to our partnership with Māori and obligations under Te Tiriti be reflected in our culture, our education and our engagement with Māori communities and students? 
  • how should our commitment to partner with our Pacific communities be reflected in our culture, our education and our engagement with Pasifika students? 
  • what should the University do to help students become employable (thinking in particular about employability in the curriculum and how the University can foster opportunities for employment through extra-curricular opportunities)? 

Read the paper here

Research and Innovation 

The Research and Innovation Paper is seeking feedback on the University’s approach and strategy to fostering academic research and, in particular, what should drive research development.  

The Research and Innovation Paper is interested in how the University can develop a distinctly Kaupapa Māori approach to research and how the University’s commitments to the wider community and other partnerships should influence research development. It is also interested in how the University should maintain research to a high standard, the impact that research should have nationally and globally and the types of research the University of Auckland should foster – whether interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary or collaborative. 

From a student perspective, feedback on this paper could focus on: 

  • how can the University use kaupapa Māori approaches to enhance its research? 
  • how can the University’s location, partnerships and sense of place enhance its research output? 
  • what does the University need to do to ensure excellence in its research output? 
  • should the University focus on research to deal with the grand challenges of the day (issues like climate change, changing geo-political shifts), what role does the University play in addressing these challenges? 
  • what is the role of the University is encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship? 

Read the paper here.

Engagement 

The Engagement Position Paper is seeking feedback on how the University should engage both locally and globally with the wider community, alumni and other stakeholders. 

The Engagement Position Paper is interested in how the University can be a better partner with Māori under Te Tiriti and with mana whenua, how the University can engage locally and globally, what the future of international education should be and how we can build effective relationships with alumni and donors. 

From a student perspective, feedback on this paper could focus on: 

  • how can the University better engage and partner with Māori? What does a true treaty relationship look like? 
  • how can the University engage locally and globally? Who should it be engaging with? 
  • what should the future of international education look like? 
  • how should the University engage alumni and donors? What opportunities can be captured from doing so? 

Read the paper here.

People and Culture 

The People and Culture Position Paper is seeking feedback on how the University can get the best out of its staff, in order to deliver the University’s mission of providing a world class University experience. 

The People and Culture Position Paper is interested in how the University can encourage a sense of belonging for staff and students, what the staff experience should be like and what our staff need to do to support our students. In addition to this, it is also interested in how to support staff to develop new capabilities, leadership and keeping the University’s staffing structure and profile fit for the University’s ever-changing needs. 

From a student perspective, feedback on this paper could focus on: 

  • how do we ensure our University is a place in which all can belong? How do we ensure its safe, inclusive and equitable? 
  • what skills and capabilities do our staff need to have to deliver high quality teaching and to support high quality research? 
  • what does the University need to do to ensure diversity is represented in our staff? 

Read the paper here.

Sustainability 

The Sustainable University Position Paper is seeking feedback on how to achieve sustainability as an organisation – financially, digitally, physically, environmentally and in respect of organisational performance. 

The Sustainability Paper is interested in developing a framework that can support the University’s future direction in terms of education, research and engagement. In particular, the Sustainability Paper wants to capture what our community prioritises most, given the need to make trade-offs. Do we value having a low academic staff to student ratio and international rankings, and are we prepared for efficiencies to have be made elsewhere to maintain this? With the potential to work from home now, what gains can be made physically to our campus? If the future of education is blended (online and on-campus) learning, what physical and digital infrastructure will be required? 

From a student perspective, feedback on this paper could focus on: 

  • what will be the IT demands of students over the next five years? 
  • on campus versus off campus – what’s the future going to look like in this respect?  
  • how do we ensure the University is environmentally sustainable? 
  • should the University continue to prioritise staff to student ratios as the base metric for quality? 
  • where is the duplication in our current services and what can we done to reduce this, save costs and improve student user experience? 

Read the paper here.

Submitting Feedback 

Ultimately, whatever feedback you want to provide is up to you! The Position Papers are dense and they cover a lot of ground. If you just want to answer one question, the best one would probably be this: what should the University’s top priorities be over the next five years?

Provide your feedback here

Join the discussion: https://padlet.com/AUSA/UoAStrategicPlan

Campaign artwork by Eda Tang