Strategic Plan 2016-2020 - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Strategic Plan 2016-2020

Our University

The University of the Sunshine Coast is a unique and successful regional institution, established on a greenfield site at Sippy Downs 20 years ago to support the development aspirations of the Sunshine Coast community. From this beginning, the University has grown to around 12,000 students and 120 degree programs, focussed on the catchment between Brisbane and the Fraser Coast.

The growth has been in a planned manner, with new programs, infrastructure and study locations introduced to meet the needs of local industry and community, and support other initiatives such as the establishment of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital at Kawana.

From the beginning, the University of the Sunshine Coast has focussed on providing an excellent educational experience to local students. The University achieved a 5-star teaching rating in 2007 and has held this rating in the ensuing period, the only Queensland public university to do so.

As the University has matured, it has increased its research activities and postgraduate student numbers in the movement towards being a comprehensive (teaching and research) university. The latest Australian Research Council (ARC) competitive grants round saw the University achieve results on-par or better than many older, more established institutions. While it will be some years before the University will consider itself fully-matured, the trends are all very positive.

The University has now been responsible for almost $7 billion of human capital development in our catchment. Higher Education participation rates in the Sunshine Coast council area have risen by 50 percent, well above those of the surrounding council areas, and are rising in Gympie, where campus infrastructure has been more recently established.

Our Plan

Developed in consultation with the University community, the Strategic Plan 2016-2020 will guide the University of the Sunshine Coast through its next five years. The University’s vision for its continued maturation, growth and development and its commitment to the region is explicit in the new Strategic Plan.

This vision is reflected in the three goals articulated in the Plan and the six Imperatives provide a focus for how these goals will be achieved. Each Imperative includes a description of the future state we are seeking, the priorities that tell us where to put our effort and the measures by which we can gauge our success. We look forward to working with all our stakeholders and communities to implement this vision and achieve our goals.

Our Vision

The University of the Sunshine Coast will be a university of international standing, a driver of capacity building in the Sunshine Coast and broader region, and an unsurpassed community asset.

Our Strategic Goals

The University will be:

  • a comprehensive university of 20,000 students by 2020
  • positioned in the global tertiary education community as a top-100 university under 50 years of age, and
  • a primary engine of capacity building in the broader Sunshine Coast region, from Brisbane to the Fraser Coast.

Our Imperatives

The University will:

  • increase student enrolments and improve student success
  • increase research productivity and impact
  • expand campuses and study nodes
  • improve institutional effectiveness
  • strengthen leadership in sustainability for the region and beyond
  • strengthen engagement with our communities

Our Values in Action


Academic study and achievement underpin tertiary education at USC, enabled by the provision of the highest quality tertiary education experience and environment to students and staff.


Research, particularly in areas of community challenges, is fundamental to the University’s impact.


Supporting sustainability across social, economic, cultural and environmental domains, is a core responsibility of the University.


The University is committed to working with and for its diverse communities.

Social Justice

The University is committed to advancing human rights within a free, tolerant and inclusive society and contributing to better outcomes for all Australians. The University respects  and acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, land, culture and history and will work collaboratively to advance Indigenous outcomes.


The University has an overarching commitment to freedom of enquiry and expression, ethical behaviour and integrity

Priorities and Measures to Deliver the Six Imperatives

1. The University will increase student enrolments and improve student success

USC will be a comprehensive university of 20,000 students by 2020. To achieve significant and sustainable growth of our student body we will increase the numbers and sources of students we attract to USC and enhance their learning outcomes.

  1. Develop and support strategic, innovative and distinctive curricula.
  2. Expand access pathways for students.
  3. Focus on initiatives and support to enhance student engagement and maximise student success.
  4. Expand and diversify international student enrolments.
Measuring Achievement
  • 20,000 student enrolments by 2020
  • student retention
  • student satisfaction
  • graduate outcomes
  • access for groups underrepresented in higher education
Thinkstock shapes
2. The University will increase research productivity and impact

Research performance is critically important to USC’s reputation and standing both nationally and internationally. USC is committed to achieving a ranking in the Times Higher Education Top 100 Universities under 50 years of age. USC will strive to conduct research that makes a difference. To achieve this USC will further develop and expand research capacity and productivity and actively pursue cutting edge research.

  1. Target resources and research programs to increase the number of HDR students.
  2. Expand the focused research capacity of USC.
  3. Intensify applied and translational research through partnerships and collaborative projects — locally, nationally and internationally.
Measuring Achievement
  • research income
  • higher degree by research student enrolments
Hervey Bay pier
3. The University will expand campuses and study nodes

USC will embrace its role in driving capacity building in the broader Sunshine Coast region. We will open new campuses, study nodes and collaborative health facilities in the region from Brisbane to the Fraser Coast, and expand our digital capability to support greater access to offerings in the region.

  1. Open new campuses and study nodes.
  2. Expand USC’s digital infrastructure and service capability.
  3. Develop collaborative health facilities across the Sunshine Coast region.
  4. Develop national and international partnerships with a focus on the Asia Pacific region.
Measuring Achievement
  • student enrolments at campuses and study nodes
  • collaborative health facilities
4. The University will improve institutional effectiveness

In developing a distinctive University in a competitive and changing landscape, we reflect on the effectiveness of our practices and make change where necessary. USC will be selective and strategic in choices, and align planning, evaluation and budgeting processes with its strategic aspirations in the most efficient way. Institutional effectiveness is at the
heart of this decision-making, reflection and growth process. Operational excellence will underpin USC’s achievement of the goals in our Strategic Plan.

  1. Attract and retain staff who are committed to the University’s Vision and Values, and support them to succeed in their roles.
  2. Embed a commitment to excellence and leadership within the University’s governance, management, and decision-making frameworks.
  3. Strengthen administrative efficiency and effectiveness to optimise quality and sustainability.
  4. Effect responsible and innovative management of resources that supports the University’s strategic goals.
  5. Increase staff capability for the deployment of digital technologies.
Measuring Achievement
  • annual positive discretionary cashflow
  • staff costs as a proportion of total operational income
  • staff composition
Researcher with glass jar
5. The University will strengthen leadership in sustainability for the region and beyond

USC will demonstrate leadership in its commitment to sustainability through its operations and academic offerings and through its contributions to enhancing sustainability across the region and beyond. As well as embracing environmental sustainability, the University will contribute to ensuring the region’s social and economic sustainability.

  1. Partner with industry and government to contribute to the sustainability of the region.
  2. Engage with staff, students and the broader community to promote sustainability in the local region and beyond.
  3. Embed sustainability in the University’s teaching and research programs and throughout its operations.
Measuring Achievement
  • carbon dioxide emissions
  • high impact sustainability initiatives
  • capture rates across USC catchment areas
Indigenous dancer at USC Imaginarium event 2015
6. The University will strengthen engagement with its communities

USC will pursue its strategic plan Vision by contributing the highest quality of teaching, learning and research and by engaging with local, national and international communities in the most inclusive and beneficial manner. It will work with its many stakeholders to build productive partnerships, to undertake outreach activities and to strategically advance USC nationally and internationally — all to support USC’s work in the broader Sunshine Coast region.

  1. Develop productive partnerships and networks with industry, government, philanthropists and international partners.
  2. Maintain and enhance effective relationships with the University’s key stakeholders.
  3. Embed community engagement effectively throughout the University’s activities.
Measuring Achievement
  • productive regional partnership activity
  • proportion of revenue from industry and philanthropy funding
  • develop engagement measures
  • meaningful and genuine partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and their communities