Office of the Vice-ChancellorGrowing Esteem

Developing our strategy

2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2010 - 2011-2012

In 1853 the University was founded to offer degrees to privileged students in an intimate setting, at a standard that would match that of Oxford.  Now, with over 37,000 students and 7,000 staff from many and varied backgrounds, a number of campuses, and ever-changing external circumstances, the University strives to adapt to the times whilst retaining a sense of tradition and purpose.

In 1998 the University first issued a strategic plan under the leadership of Vice-Chancellor Professor David Pennington.  His successor, Vice-Chancellor Alan Gilbert, issued the Melbourne Agenda in 1996, for the first formally expressing the desire for Melbourne to become 'one of the finest universities in the world'.  This was followed by the 1998 Strategic Plan, solidifying strategic planning as a part of organisational operations at the University.

2005: The year of consultation

In 2005 the University undertook an extensive consultation process with members of the University community, from which the Growing Esteem strategy was developed. Growing Esteem was a necessary response to the changing higher education environment. The University faced diminishing government funding, the increased relevance of international rankings and increasing global competition.

The document outlining the strategy, Growing Esteem 2005, and a report on the consultation process were released in November 2005 and remained before the University community until adoption by the University’s Council in December.

In Growing Esteem 2005, the University outlined its priorities under the structure of a metaphoric triple helix with three inter-dependent strands; research and research training, learning and teaching, and knowledge transfer.

2006: The year of detail

In 2006 several University review bodies began work to decide how to implement Growing Esteem, with an emphasis on detail. Growing Esteem: The University of Melbourne Strategic Plan 2006 guided the actions of the University for that year.

A range of tasks needed to be undertaken to achieve the strategy’s stated goals. The largest of these tasks was that of the Curriculum Commission, which worked with faculties to review existing programs and plan the future profile of undergraduate and graduate offerings. The report, The Melbourne Model: Report of the Curriculum Commission, made recommendations on how to achieve a curriculum to provide breadth and depth and address the challenges of current and future environments.

Other groups established to provide detail on how the University would achieve its strategic goals included the Research and Research Training Quality Taskforce, the Knowledge Transfer Taskforce, and the Policy and Advocacy Taskforce.

To guide our activities, detailed plans for each triple helix area (research and research training, learning and teaching, knowledge transfer) and for our international activities were released.

2007: The year of transition

In 2007 the University aimed for seamless implementation of the Growing Esteem strategy, in particular the “Melbourne Model” (now the Melbourne curriculum). Each strand of the triple helix had its own support structures in place to oversee this unprecedented transition. The steps were outlined in the University of Melbourne Plan 2007.

In research and research training, work was undertaken to quantify research and prepare for the then anticipated research quality framework. The University also planned for investment in major cross-disciplinary research initiatives.

In learning and teaching, the University endorsed the structure and content of the Melbourne Model undergraduate degrees and professional graduate courses. Work to further develop the University’s access and equity initiatives and the Melbourne Experience was also a focus in 2007.

In engagement, knowledge transfer was incorporated in the executive structure of faculties and became part of the promotion criteria for all academic staff. Inaugural knowledge transfer awards were held, with the quality and quantity of nominations exceeding expectations.

2008: The year of delivery and research

In 2008 the first students enrolled in the new generation Melbourne Model degrees. The University of Melbourne Plan 2008 was structured around the triple helix metaphor and emphasised a renewed focus on improving research performance.

The University improved its performance and reputation in research with impressive results in international rankings. Research training performance improved and a new research training Masters program was developed to enhance the quality of PhD candidates.

The new Melbourne Model curriculum was widely supported, with strong demand for places. Improving the Melbourne Experience was addressed with the establishment of student centres around the campus designed to improve student administrative services.

A catalogue of knowledge transfer activities was developed and a database to record activities was piloted to assist in tracking, measuring and evaluating those activities.

2009: The year of refinement

The 2009 University Plan outlined goals for research, learning and teaching and knowledge transfer, with a focus on continuing the implementation of Growing Esteem, whilst minimising the impact of the global financial crisis. Preparations were made for the implementation of Responsible Division Management (RDM) and the University’s Economic Response Program was launched. The Towards 2011 project was initiated, to prepare the University's graduate schools for the first wave of graduates from new generation Melbourne Model degrees.  The University launched its first five cross-disciplinary institutes, each with a mandate to focus on core societal challenges.

In 2009, five years after the University adopted Growing Esteem, the task of refining the strategy commenced, in consultation with the whole of University community. 

In June 2009, the Vice-Chancellor issued Refining our Strategy:  A discussion paper that invites involvement and response to staff and alumni.  The discussion paper raised many issues surrounding the University's strategy, including the nature of higher education and changes to the external environment.  Responses from the University's community were aggregated into a single document:  De-identified responses to Refining Our Strategy.

Over a period of two months, briefings and focus groups were arranged to disseminate information about, and invite critical response to, the issues and questions raised by the discussion paper.  An overview of the consultation process was documented in the Consultation Process Report:  Refining Our Strategy.

2010: The year of consolidation

In early 2010 the University’s Council approved the refined version of the Growing Esteem strategy, Growing Esteem 2010, the strategy that has since informed all University plans developments and operations through the planning cycle (described in Ensuring Accountability).  In particular, the strategy informed the development of the University of Melbourne Plan 2011-2014.  This plan contains University-wide goals, indicators and activities designed to achieve the Growing Esteem vision.

Given the substantial changes of recent years, particularly the implementation of the Melbourne Model and the impact of the global financial crisis, the University used 2010 to consolidate financial and organisational stability.

The years since:  2011 and 2012

Since implementation in 2010, the University has continued to pursue the Growing Esteem vision in all elements of its operations.

In 2011, the Melbourne curriculum was realised as the first cohort of New Generation degree students graduated.  A significant number have since moved into graduate degrees at Melbourne.  The first students to hold both a New Generation Bachelor and a Melbourne Masters degree graduate at the end of 2012.

After extensive consultation, in 2012 the Melbourne Research Office released Research at Melbourne: Ensuring Excellence and Impact to 2025. This document outlines the University's research and research training strategy for the next 10-15 years, in line with Growing Esteem.

A strong focus of 2012 was on enhancing the University's capacity for eLearning and online education. In September, the University of Melbourne became the first Australian partner of the prestigious online learning platform Coursera.  In coming years the University will offer free, open online courses to anyone with internet connection around the world.

The University has continued to engage with its partners, local and international alike.

Growing Esteem continues to inform the University's vision and mission.

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