Print this page

Strategic Plan

Distinctive by Design

The University of Canberra’s Strategic Plan for 2018-2022 embodies our shared ambition to be 'distinctive by design'.

Building upon a strong foundation laid down during its formative years and impressive successes of the past decade, the University of Canberra is at the cusp of launching itself into an ambitious future. This is an opportune moment to reimagine our structures, practices and emphases to prepare the University for the exciting journey that lies ahead.

Our plan, titled Distinctive by Design weaves together three overarching themes: empowerment of our diverse people; distinctive teaching and research; and an enriched learning environment.

Streams of strategic intent

Five interconnected streams of strategic intent will be rolled out progressively over the next five years. These initiatives will drive our quest to shape the University of Canberra into a globally prominent institution of learning, research and public engagement.

The drivers of our success

UC’s success has been shaped by the ingenuity of our people, who are the primary means through which we will deliver on our commitments. As we grow, academic and professional leaders with unbridled potential will be attracted to the University of Canberra because of our distinctive culture, values, support and focus. We will nurture and support our workforce to deliver excellence in our core missions of education and research. Our people will have strong commitment to, and engagement with, the University. UC will be the national sector leader in equity, diversity, inclusion and access. We will determine success through independent staff-engagement and satisfaction surveys and our performance in research, teaching, student experience and graduate employment.

Our people are our most treasured asset and ultimately bear responsibility for the delivery of our mission through teaching, learning, research, scholarship, innovation and public engagement. We will actively seek to further build a rich pool of talented staff – each valued for their own qualities and united in a single community of scholars, learners and enablers, impassioned about constructing a better world.

We will set a new benchmark for empowering staff by nurturing talent, embracing accountability at all levels and rewarding not only individual achievements but also – and more importantly – collaborative success.

The University of Canberra is proud to be recognised as a leader in equity and social justice, and embraces an ongoing commitment to empower individuals to achieve their best, regardless of their circumstances.


  • Actively search for the best and brightest talent in line with the University’s priorities, and provide support and professional development to achieve high standards of performance.
  • Promote a culture of consultative and participative management, and foster a commitment among all our people to a healthy, enjoyable, safe, intellectually stimulating and collaborative environment.
  • Co-design measures of individual and University contributions to drive performance in the new work environment.
  • Encourage innovation, co-creation and considered experimentation while setting a high standard for accountability.
  • Develop our capability and capacity through a renewed workforce strategy, planning and design.
  • Build a community of outstanding leaders and collaborative teams, encourage and celebrate individual and team success, and reward these through fair and inclusive pay and recognition.

Our students are central to our mission

UC will rank in the top quartile of Australian universities for its student experience and employment by 2022 – undergraduate and postgraduate alike. Professional education, experiential learning, student entrepreneurship, global connectivity and international mobility will be hallmarks of UC’s education.

UC will be a university of choice for students from under-represented groups in our society, and we will be recognised for our distinctive approachto being a life-long partner for our graduates. We will monitor success through the leading national measures of teaching and learning quality, student satisfaction, graduate employment and the success of our alumni.

Our students will be active partners in the decisions that affect their educational and life experiences at the University.

UC will further sharpen its focus on educating professionals, expanding and adjusting our suite of educational programs, delivered in innovative and supportive ways, to reflect the evolving and frequently changing needs of the future job market.

UC will make authentic experiential and entrepreneurial learning a distinctive feature of every student’s experience, striving to national leadership in this field. This will prepare graduates who are fit not just for finding employment but also creating it.

A complementary emphasis on co-curricular activities and imbuing UC’s educational experience with critical thinking, communication skills, cultural competency, resilience and a zeal for public engagement will prepare our graduates for lifelong success.

UC will actively seek to expand and diversify its international student body as well as international opportunities for all our students.

The University will continue to embrace its responsibility to achieve equity, enthusiastically seeking and nurturing students from Australia’s First Peoples and minorities of race, gender, ability or belief.

UC will position itself as a genuine life-long career partner for all our students, working with graduates to help them thrive throughout their careers and maintain the currency of their knowledge by upgrading their qualifications and enhancing their professional profiles.


  • Create a standing advisory committee representing various student groups to work with the Vice-Chancellor and senior administration on matters of curriculum, policy and student experience.
  • Make new models of authentic experiential and entrepreneurial learning a feature of all UC courses, including the use of co-working spaces and start-up training to equip our students for the evolving workforce and lifetime success.
  • Expand and diversify opportunities for international academic exchanges.
  • Enhance our support services and systems across the entire student journey into and through the University to improve participation, retention and success for all our students.
  • Invest in comfortable, attractive, safe and technology-enabled spaces and residences to foster an enriched environment for living and learning.
  • Widen and strengthen opportunities for participation in sports, cultural and social activities.
  • Structure our degree programs and support services to provide lifetime career assistance for our graduates, including access to professional development, discounted further studies, career services and professional affiliations.

To position UC among the top 50 universities globally under the age of 50

Building on the impressive success of the last five years, we will bolster our globally-significant areas of existing and emerging research strength and aim for the highest recognition in national and international assessments of excellence. While fostering strong alignment between research and teaching, we will aspire to be ranked in the top quartile nationally for teaching quality in all disciplines in which we teach. We will concentrate our resources to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, and aspire to rank above the national average for measures of engagement and impact.

Our students must benefit from the intellectual wealth of our entire workforce and in turn contribute to the enrichment of our intellectual environment. Creating a continuum between research and teaching is critical to sustainable success of the academic mission of the university. While supporting outstanding performance and focus in research and teaching, we expect all academic staff, through their scholarly activity, to contribute to the best possible outcomes for our students.

Through strategic selection of our research pursuits, we will strive for excellence across our chosen research endeavours. Application and impact will be at the heart of our research mission and by building high-performing cross-disciplinary teams, we will capitalise on our significant achievements to date in providing trusted solutions to government, industry and the community.

Our teaching programs will be tightly integrated with our research strengths and will leverage our links with industry, business and government to deliver authentic experiential learning. We will adopt or create innovative technologies and models of delivery to provide a sector-leading learning environment for our students. UC will be recognised for its student-centred approach to teaching and graduate-centred approach to measuring success.

We will connect education and research with the needs and requirements of communities by fostering entrepreneurship in every aspect of University life. We will seek to attract staff and students with a propensity for innovation and build a campus that will attract entrepreneurs and industry partners to locate here, transforming UC into a thriving hub of innovation and entrepreneurship.


  • Actively build teams with outstanding performance and potential to deliver our education and research missions, and recognise and equitably reward excellence in teaching, research, innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • Further develop our current areas of research excellence through strategic investment and support and align these with teaching excellence. Periodically examine opportunities to recognise and support emerging areas of strength to be added to institutional priorities.
  • Comprehensively review and regularly update the curriculum to keep it closely aligned with market needs, and incorporate experiential learning and entrepreneurship opportunities across all courses.
  • Use real-time data to provide feedback to staff to support excellence in student-centred teaching, and adopt an evidence-based approach to drive a culture of continual improvement in teaching performance.
  • Redevelop our intellectual property policies to create a sector-leading environment for IP ownership and enable staff to more easily participate in commercial and social ventures that are spun out of their research and scholarship.
  • Leverage government, business and innovation networks, including opportunities afforded by the development of the campus, to build excellence in teaching, research and entrepreneurship capability within the University.

Taking UC’s rich educational offerings to the far corners of the world

As the University of Australia’s capital, UC has an enduring commitment to provide ideas, talent and solutions for the advancement of the capital and our surrounding communities. Built on strong local support for our progress, we have emerged as a significant global player whose educational brand is respected across Australia and abroad. We will leverage this local-global nexus to reshape, expand and strengthen our trans-national network of educational activities, build total enrolment and enhance student mobility.

UC has an extensive global presence, with our students pursuing their education at our flagship Canberra campus as well as at our partner locations in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Ningbo, Hangzhou, and Thimphu (Bhutan).

Enabled by a state-of-the-art digital footprint, we will leverage the scale of our global network and UC’s rising reputation to rationalise, strengthen and selectively expand our educational partnerships, as well as introduce new models of collaboration and inter-institution student mobility.

The opportunities offered by the campus development plan will be deployed to reciprocally and more effectively connect our distant ventures to the Canberra campus, while remaining deeply engaged with our local and regional communities. Our ultimate goal is to transform the Canberra campus into a global magnet for learners and scholars.


  • Invest in the expansion of courses, enrolment and new partnership models in selected high-potential collaborative ventures.
  • Explore and pursue opportunities for joint ventures in the ACT and surrounding regions including the possibility of inviting suitable institutions to establish partnerships with UC at the Canberra campus.
  • Leverage our global network of partnerships to grow enrolment in UC’s courses and strengthen our financial sustainability.
  • Facilitate two-way movement of students between our diverse partners and the Canberra campus, as well as deploy appropriate technologies to enhance communication among these locations.

A lifelong learning community

This Strategic Plan will roll-out in parallel with an ambitious development plan – The Educated Life – for UC’s Canberra campus. The development will fundamentally transform the physical and functional environment through which the University delivers its mission – locally, regionally and around the globe. At its heart will be the principles of co-creation and collaboration, offering fresh opportunities for national and international partnerships, transformational research, enriched learning experiences and vibrant commercial and networking activities.

The next decade will see the Canberra campus evolve into a series of interconnected precincts, including thousands of people living on the campus and calling UC home. This living-learning community on campus will enable residents to be immersed in the University’s intellectual environment on a daily basis.

The development will boost on-campus energy through an influx of researchers, businesses, services and new residents who will live and work on the campus and experience The Educated Life.

Facilities embedded across campus to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, and the strategic development of health, sport and education precincts will be guided by and integrated with the University’s academic priorities.


  • Open up and integrate with the surrounding district of Belconnen and strengthen our partnerships with local educational and professional institutions.
  • Enhance Canberra’s reputation as a knowledge city and education capital, and grow the knowledge economy by developing an entrepreneurial hub where industry, research and community come together in the exploration of ideas and pursuit of solutions.
  • Stand out as a showcase of innovative urban design in a characteristically Australian landscape, and promote healthy and active lifestyles that are accessible for people of all ages and abilities.
  • Ensure that by building the UC campus as a smart-city-within-the-city, we deliver cutting edge communication technologies and connectivity to the community.
  • Create opportunities for our students to be engaged across all areas of the campus development and operations as part of the experiential learning programs.
  • Working with our partners, pursue the highest standards of environmental and energy sustainability, water conservation, physical accessibility, and sustainable and active modes of transport.