We live in an era of disruptive change in which the pace of technological innovation is remarkable. Unprecedented access to information is redefining the ways we live, learn and work. As a university, we must rise to the challenge of preparing our graduates for success in a future that will be every bit as dynamic and unpredictable as it is exciting.
This means challenging traditional paradigms and embracing the emerging opportunities. Challenging times require courage, vision and purpose, all of which have been hallmarks of Flinders since its inception 50 years ago. Our namesake, Matthew Flinders, was a man of purpose. When asked why he chose to embark on his incredible voyage of discovery he responded, “I have too much ambition to rest in the unnoticed middle order of mankind”. He was also a man who believed in the importance of actions that “speak to the world” and this commitment is reflected in our new Strategic Plan Making a Difference – the 2025 Agenda.
It sets out an ambitious vision for Flinders University. One that will harness disruptive technologies and chart a course that takes us to the top 10 of Australian universities and the top one percent in the world.
Achieving our vision requires strong financial foundations, a shared sense of purpose and a common set of values upon which to build. From these arise the four pillars of our Plan, namely People and Culture, Research, Education, and Engagement and Impact. The Plan puts People and Culture first since our collective success depends upon the achievements of our people, and it is our culture that will sustain that success into the future.
In Research our aim is to be a world leader, contributing knowledge, understanding and practical solutions that will improve lives and benefit society. In Education, our paramount focus on student success will be a distinguishing feature of the Flinders Experience.
On the road to success, the journey itself matters.
We are therefore committed to fostering a vibrant and engaging university experience including a new student village as a focal point for a residential experience that complements the learning environment.
Productive Engagement will be required across a range of networks for us to create the Impact that is core to our mission of changing lives and changing the world. We will celebrate diversity, strengthen community and government relationships, and expand our global reach through high quality international partnerships. Closer to home we will embrace our role as a catalyst in the knowledge economy, adding value through collaborations with business, industry and entrepreneurs to stimulate economic growth and bring about positive societal change.
Implementing our vision requires a set of specific metrics against which to monitor progress. These will be applied throughout our organisational structures so that all staff can see how their own efforts contribute towards our vision. These metrics will be complemented by a Planning and Accountability cycle that will enable us to recognise achievement and modulate plans to promote continuous improvement.
A shared sense of purpose, together with a common set of values, is fundamental to a successful culture. Following university wide consultation with staff and students, four core values have emerged – Integrity, Courage, Innovation and Excellence, and above all an ethos that is Student Centred. We will continue to consult with staff and students as we articulate how these values will manifest in our day-to-day experiences at Flinders.
I believe that Matthew Flinders would be proud of the achievements made by this University in the 50 years since its creation. Making a Difference will build on that legacy, ensuring that we continue to inspire achievement in the decades ahead.
Colin J Stirling