In August, we launched the Caring Futures Institute to bring together a range of disciplines and interests to investigate ways to improve people’s lives and enrich the community through care. The Flinders Caring Futures Institute partners with government, health systems and industry, and works in support of both professional carers and those who care for loved ones at home.
The University has delivered a strong performance in 2018 and is making good progress towards our ambitious 2025 Agenda.
The transition to our new College structure is now complete and represents a very solid base from which to build for the future. Our new structure provides a more agile and responsive environment and also encourages the development of interdisciplinary opportunities in both education and research that will be key to long-term success.
I am delighted that the University’s reinforced commitment to research has forged stronger links with industries, developed stronger international relationships – particularly this year with leading French learning institutions and industries – and consolidated our reputation as a preferred destination of international students.
It’s clear evidence that our strategic priorities, defined in Making a Difference — The 2025 Agenda, are propelling Flinders towards earning increased international recognition as a leading research institution, an innovator in contemporary education, and the source of this nation’s most enterprising graduates.
Our successes reflect the calibre of our people, and pivotal appointments have equipped us with the leadership to increase our impact, performance and achievements. New leaders at the helm of our colleges are Professor Jonathan Craig (Vice-President & Executive Dean College of Medicine and Public Health), Professor Mike Kyrios (Vice-President & Executive Dean College of Education, Psychology and Social Work), Professor Vanessa Lemm (Vice-President & Executive Dean College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences) and Professor Alistair Rendell (Vice-President & Executive Dean College of Science and Engineering).
Learning highlights included our digital illustration programme, delivered in collaboration with CDW Studios, ranking within the world’s top 10 for the third year running by The Rookies digital design community, while Melbourne’s Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership sent a cohort of Victorian school leaders to complete our innovative Master of Education (Rural Leadership and Management).
I am delighted with the high-calibre staff our University continues to attract, with 384 new staff joining us in 2019, including 196 new academic staff and six Matthew Flinders Fellows.
Many Flinders staff received national and international accolades over the year including Australia Day Honours and a wide range of academic awards.
Our commitment to innovation was reflected in a sweeping modernisation of our IT systems with Flinders winning a global award at the Boomi World Conference and our New Venture Institute named as the only Australian business incubator in the UBI World Benchmark and equal first in the Asia-Pacific’s top three. We also invested $2.4 million in new sustainability initiatives on campus, building on our $5 million solar investment the previous year.
Reinforcing our commitment to social justice, 2019 saw us achieve Athena SWAN Bronze accreditation and start work on our first Reconciliation Action Plan. Led by members of our Senior Executive Team, these initiatives reflect a whole-of-university journey towards advancing gender equity at our University and improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
World university rankings provide an independent validation of our performance and the Times Higher Education rankings saw us rise 17 places to our highest ever ranking of 271 in the world. Locally, we are number one in South Australia for teaching quality, student support, student/teacher ratio, student retention and starting salary, as rated by the 2020 Good Universities Guide. Our postgraduate students report the strongest employment, overall study experience and highest wages in this state.
We continue to build strong partnerships and entered in to a number of new agreements in 2019. These included a new research, development and educational collaboration between Flinders University, French graduate school of engineering ENSTA Bretagne and global shipbuilder Naval Group, and the foundation for a joint international research laboratory with fellow South Australian universities, French National Science Research Organisations CNRS and Naval Group.
Among local partnerships, we celebrated our New Venture Institute’s expanding regional support, and a major new community event – Festive at Flinders. Strong industry and community connections underpin our relevance and it is pleasing to reflect on this deepening engagement.
Of course, collaboration is just as vital within our University, and staff are to be commended for their collective efforts that have informed a year of considerable progress.
I thank our entire university community for their commitment to our strategic goals, to our students, and to making the world a better place.