Sunday, February 14, 2021

ANU 2025 Strategic Plan

The Australian National University has invited comment on its ANU 2025 Strategic Plan. Like previous consultations, for the ANU Strategic Plan 2017-2021, this is a very broad invitation to the community, not restricted to staff and students.

In suggestions for the 2017 plan I wrote:

"... a campus should be seen as a supplement to the primary way universities already carry out their mission: in the digital realm. This allows greater equity, with those of limited means able to work, research and study at university without having to leave their community. ..."

By 2021, I suggest the typical Australian university student will still attend classes, but for only 20% of their program, with the other 80% on-line. .."

The prediction online working came true a year early, regrettably forced by COVID-19.As many universities found, it was feasible to move from blended to pure online working (Cochrane et al., 2020).

However, it should not be assumed that the COVID-19 pandemic will end soon, or that other situations will not keep students from campus. It will therefore be prudent to design an online option into every course, even after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Also it would be prudent to design research and work procedures so most staff need not be on campus.

Previously, I had suggested ANU invest in flexible classrooms and lecture theaters with retractable seating. This was done with the Kambri development at ANU, which opened in 2019. This worked well before the pandemic (Worthington, 2019) and was useful for implementing social distancing in response.

However, Australian universities now face a much larger threat than COVID-19, with onshore international student numbers expected to drop 60% by 2030, due to international competition (Guthrie et al., 2021). I suggest a flexible blend of quality onshore, offshore and online learning to remain competitive. Online courses with a mix of domestic and international students have worked, as envisioned (Worthington, 2014).

The main challenge with a blended approach is having staff who are sufficiently skilled to implement it. As well as support staff, this requires tutors and lecturers who are trained and qualified both in their primary discipline and in teaching. I suggest this be addressed by offering teacher training to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, as part of their degrees. The same training can be offered to external professionals, and staff, as micro and short credentials.


Cochrane, T., Birt, J., Cowie, N., Deneen, C., Goldacre, P., Narayan, V., ... & Worthington, T. (2020, November). A Collaborative Design Model to Support Hybrid Learning Environments During COVID19. InProceedings of the ASCILITE 37th International Conference on Innovation, Practice and Research in the Use of Educational Technologies in Tertiary Education, Armidale, Australia(Vol. 30). URL

Gwilym Croucher, Kristine Elliott, William Locke and Edward Yencken (0 Mar 2020)Australia’s higher education delivery offshore and online – trends, barriers and opportunities, Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education. URL

James Guthrie, Martina K Linnenluecke, Ann Martin-Sardesai, Yun Shen, and Tom Smith (January 2020).On the resilience of Australian public universities: Why our institutions may fail unless Vice-Chancellors rethink broken business models, Macquarie University Business School working paper. URL

Worthington, T. (2014, August). Chinese and Australian students learning to work together online proposal to expand the New Colombo Plan to the online environment. In 2014 9th International Conference on Computer Science & Education(pp. 164-168). IEEE.

Worthington, T. (2019, December). Blend and Flip for Teaching Communication Skills to Final Year International Computer Science Students. In2019 IEEE International Conference on Engineering, Technology and Education (TALE)(pp. 1-5). IEEE. URL

No comments:

Post a Comment