Strategic Plan 2021-2024 - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Strategic Plan 2021-2024

Rising with our regions; connecting to the world

Our vision is to be Australia’s premier regional university. Our strategic plan outlines how we will achieve this vision. USC’s journey has been exceptional in achievement as a community-focused higher education institution. The University was founded in 1996 by, and for, the community.

USC’s aspiration has been to partner with regions as they grew and developed, to provide new capability, build capacity and form strategic partnerships to support local success. While the region has expanded, with USC facilities now located across South East Queensland, the community focus remains unchanged. Meeting the non-exclusive challenges of growth and maturation as a distinctive regional university continues to be the context for our decision making.

The world today is in transition more than any time in the last 25 years. There are deep economic, societal and environmental changes occurring. These impact the roles and responsibilities of the University in the community. Australians are reconsidering their life balance, and with this comes fundamental questions:

  • What is the future of work and what does it mean to be job-ready?
  • How do we live sustainably?
  • What should Australia’s sovereign capabilities be?
  • How do people engage with, and obtain equitable access to, education, employment and human services?
  • What are the hallmarks of a fair Australian society?
  • What is the future of education?

USC must continue to reflect the contemporary understanding of Australia and its regions and play a major role in addressing these questions. In doing so, we ensure our regions are best placed to take advantage of opportunities and address emerging challenges in order to thrive and prosper.

USC’s Strategic Plan 2021-2024 has been developed in consultation with staff and other key stakeholders. USC has considered our commitment to respect, protect and promote human rights when developing the strategies that are included in this plan. The Strategic Plan also reflects Unite and Recover, the Queensland Government’s objectives for the community.


To become Australia’s premier regional university.


Enriching our regions, connecting with our communities and creating opportunities for all.


At USC we will:

  • Advocate for equitable access to education and knowledge.
  • Recognise and embrace diversity and inclusion.
  • Champion environmental sustainable principles and practices.
  • Commit to fair and ethical behaviour.
  • Respect our people, our communities, and their potential.
  • Be accountable to ourselves and each other.
  • Strive for excellence and innovation in all that we do.


1. Opportunity

Inspire more people to achieve their ambitions through education.

USC will support more people to achieve their ambitions by improving tertiary education access, participation and success.


1.1 Increase participation and support life-long learning through streamlined access pathways, diverse learning options, and partnerships.

1.2 Attract and retain a diverse domestic and international student community with relevant program offerings matched to market demand.

1.3 Enhance the student experience to maximise student success and support accessibility and equity outcomes.

  • Increased student enrolments.
  • Improved student experience.
  • Improved student retention rate compared to national benchmark.

2. Employability

Enable more people to work, contribute, and innovate in their local and global communities.

USC will help our graduates become skilled, future-ready, socially responsible, entrepreneurial and in-demand contributors to their communities, wherever they may be, whether working for themselves or for others, in paid or voluntary work.


2.1 Develop quality curricula that supports student success.

2.2 Expand and enhance work-integrated learning opportunities to increase the readiness of graduates to enter the employment market.

2.3 Build USC’s organisational capability to enable improved graduate employability outcomes.

  • Improved graduate employment outcomes.
  • Increased student completions.
  • Improved employer satisfaction.

3. Research Impact

Produce research outcomes that make a difference.

USC will make a difference to our local, national and international communities by undertaking research that is strategically aligned, regionally beneficial and
globally impactful.


3.1 Build critical mass of regionally beneficial and globally impactful research activity aligned to areas of existing and emerging strength.

3.2 Develop strong, collaborative and productive research partnerships that contribute to genuine innovation and knowledge generation and have sustained benefits for end-users.

3.3 Establish a researcher development framework encompassing HDR students and research staff that encourages development and application of novel, relevant and useful research.

  • Improved ERA performance (with annual target for improved publication citation impact).
  • Increased engagement and impact performance (with annual target for relevant HERDC income categories).

4. Engagement

Empower communities to thrive through dynamic and productive partnerships.

USC can help drive growth in prosperity and human potential in our  communities by forging powerful industry, government, regional and global partnerships.


4.1 Be a catalyst for development of mutually beneficial partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and communities in the regions
from Moreton Bay to the Fraser Coast.

4.2 Achieve a distinctive identity and contribution for each USC campus through alignment with regional priorities.

4.3 Initiate and strengthen mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborations, locally and globally, that align with, and provide momentum for, USC’s teaching and research areas of focus.

4.4 Strengthen USC’s organisational capacity for effective engagement and ensure the public positioning reflects the University’s strategic aspirations.

  • Improved regional impact.
  • Maintained or improved performance for
    Times Higher Education’s university global impact assessment.


Build a contemporary, sustainable, accessible university.

USC can ensure our assets are fit-for-purpose, sustainable and accessible to all our communities by creating a future-facing university underpinned by appropriate digital and physical infrastructure and sustainable business models.


5.1 Future-proof the University through focused growth that embraces  opportunities and delivers sustained financial security.

5.2 Re-envision USC campuses to reflect student, staff, community and environmental sustainability aspirations.

5.3 Create a University digital strategy that aligns with, and promotes, contemporary digital practices and expectations.

5.4 Maximise infrastructure investment by aligning innovation opportunities with USC teaching and research activities.

  • Increased revenue associated with USC’s core business activities of teaching and research.
  • Maintain or reduce carbon dioxide emission levels.
  • Infrastructure and procurement activities are leveraged to develop teaching, research, and commercialisation opportunities with industry partners.

6. People and Culture

Become a workplace of choice.

USC will foster a positive organisational culture and deliver a highly skilled and highly engaged workforce by nurturing and attracting talent to build leadership,
inclusiveness and capability.


6.1 Develop a workplace that nurtures, attracts and retains a diverse and high-performing workforce.

6.2 Develop capability at all levels of the organisation to foster expertise, encourage contemporary practice and realise the full potential of our people.

6.3 Develop an ethical, respectful, cooperative and collaborative culture that crosses geographic and departmental boundaries.

6.4 Ensure that HR governance and management frameworks are in place to support a highperforming, safe and accountable workforce.

6.5 Ensure that corporate governance and management frameworks are in place to support operations within the University’s approved risk appetite.

  • High levels of employee satisfaction.
  • Improved positive employer brand recognition.
  • Metrics established with improved workforce diversity participation rates.

Implementation and monitoring

The University’s Planning and Reporting Framework is designed to support the implementation of this plan and the realisation of our vision to become Australia’s premier regional university.

It will ensure that staff across the University understand their role in achieving this vision and delivering our goals and strategies.

The Strategic Plan identifies Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for each of the six goals. Performance against these KPIs will be reviewed throughout the year and reported to Council to monitor progress in achieving these targets.

The initiatives to be delivered against the strategies for each of the six Strategic Plan goals will be identified in the University’s Top Level Plans — the Academic Plan (Opportunity and Employability goals), Research Plan (Research Impact goal), Engagement Plan (Engagement goal) and Corporate Plan (Infrastructure and People and Culture goals). Additional measures for Top Level Plan Indicators (TLPIs) will also be nominated to enable more detailed monitoring of performance.

These initiatives will then be incorporated into USC’s annual Operational Plan with progress monitored and reported on a quarterly basis as part of the annual planning process.

Schools and departments will also develop specific annual action plans for each organisational area of the University to demonstrate how the school/department will support the delivery of the Strategic and Top Level Plans. Progress on these action plans will be monitored and reported on a quarterly basis.

Underpinning these plans is the performance planning and review (PPR) process for individual staff to ensure alignment between the performance and development of individual staff, work area plans and priorities, top level plans and the University’s Strategic Plan.