The Green Paper outlines the challenges we must address to ensure The University of Queensland (UQ) continues to be a destination for the world’s best and brightest students. It also includes proposed strategies that encompass all areas of the student experience from curriculum delivery to campus design and student support.

Peter Høj

Outstanding students, staff and alumni, cross-sectoral partners, imaginative teaching, and supporters in government, industry and philanthropy, have all combined to position The University of Queensland in the top echelons of the world’s universities.

UQ graduates become national and international leaders and contribute to solving some of society’s greatest challenges. They are sought-after employees, valued for their ability to think on their feet, work in cross-cultural settings, and identify opportunities for innovation often overlooked by others. This is in no small part a reflection of the tireless efforts by UQ staff to provide high-quality learning opportunities through student-focused, researchbased teaching. It also reflects the emphasis in the UQ Strategic Plan on student success and the development of ‘must-have’ graduate employees as the first of UQ’s six foundations for the future.

We have already taken a number of steps to welcome students to UQ, enhance online systems and services, develop employability strategies and produce world class online learning materials, and are looking at strategies to free up resources to be re-directed to the academic purpose. There are also many examples of effective, future-oriented practices in student learning across UQ from which we can learn. However, there is a clear view that the University should do more.

Drawing on the perspectives of students, staff and alumni, several data sources have informed this Student Strategy Green Paper, which intends to open a discussion across UQ and its stakeholders on UQ’s distinctive student experience. Following the synthesis of feedback on this Green Paper, a White Paper will be released in early 2016. The next steps will prioritise goals and assess resource implications. In turn, the student strategy will inform UQ’s 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, thereby setting an ambitious, five-year enhancement process that will include all UQ coursework students, staff, and stakeholders and enrich the career and life prospects of graduates. I hope you will engage actively with this process.

Peter Høj

10. New staffing capabilities for new learning expectations and environments

UQ leads Australia in teaching excellence awards, citations, grants and fellowships. It is also a leader in the employment of teaching-focussed staff. However, compared with similar universities in Australia, the 2014 Uniforum data indicate that UQ has the fewest  staff engaged in Teaching Capability Enhancement. In the 2015 Staff Engagement Survey, 69% of respondents indicated that teaching-related questions were ‘not applicable’, which suggests that UQ has an unrealised potential for more staff to contribute to the teaching endeavour. As higher education becomes more diverse in its functions, more entrepreneurial in intent, and increasingly disrupted by technologies, it is inevitable that staffing profiles and capabilites will change.[90]

Typically, university staffing categories do not reflect the wide range of functions performed by their staff, nor consider the optimal mix of skills required to support academics in the teaching endeavour.[91] This line of thinking raises questions of who is being asked to provide the 21st century student experience and, indeed, the extent to which the tasks are performed in-house or outsourced. Given the challenge of the current student:staff ratios, conversations across UQ have raised the possibilities that many more academic staff could contribute to coursework teaching and that the role of ‘senior tutors’ should be revisited. To support the teaching enterprise, the futures literature argues for the employment of, for example, recognition-of-prior-learning brokers, knowledge curators, social media learning designers and cloud classroom specialists. Considering UQ’s comparatively low investment in Teaching Capability Enhancement specialists, these emerging roles are envisgaged as supplementing current staff to assist their engagement with the ever-changing landscape of teaching and learning. [92]

To assist academic staff develop blended and online pedagogies, the University of British Columbia recently created the Tech Rover program that provides funds to academic departments to hire undergraduate academic assistants to carry out technical support for faculty members one-on-one within their departments.[93] They also invested in creating flexible learning liaison roles to build linkages between the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology and the faculties.[94]

Staff professional development for the enhancement of teaching and learning at UQ has tended to be somewhat individualised and fragmented, apart from the Graduate Certificate in Higher Education. While UQ has a strong commitment to both teaching and research, anecdotally career advancement is seen as being dependent primarily on research outputs, which provides less incentive for academic staff to invest their time in teaching or its professional development. Yet for students, teaching quality takes priority alongside employer reputation and employment outcomes in higher education metrics. In the Higher Education Policy Institute’s UK-wide Student Academic Experience Survey 2015,[95] 39% of 15,129 student respondents said that the most important characteristic of a lecturer is that they have some formal training to teach. A focus on ensuring teaching quality is reflected in the Australian 2015 Higher Education Standards Framework, which requires all staff with responsibilities for academic oversight and teaching to have ‘skills in contemporary teaching, learning and assessment principles relevant to the discipline, their role, modes of delivery and the needs of particular student cohorts’ from January 2017. If UQ is to meet this challenge and transform its programs, pedagogies, assessment, and services, then engaging all staff in exemplary professional learning programs that are collaborative, programmatic, focused on authentic tasks, supported over time, and multi-modal[96] will be imperative.[97]

The largest impact on students’ experience is the positive interactions they have with their teachers[98] who are most effective when they are able to apply student-centred approaches to learning.[99] How UQ values, mobilises and supports its teaching enterprise is fundamental to achieving our aspirational student experience. 

Challenge 7:

How can UQ enhance its staffing profile to provide exceptional teaching, learning and student support?

Key strategies to consider

7.1 Value the pursuit of teaching excellence across UQ through recognition and reward that considers the aspirations and commitment of our teaching staff

7.2 Invest in new staffing capacity and capabilities – including innovative educational technologies and learning design – to complement and support existing expertise

7.3 Through rigorous and comprehensive professional development, encourage staff to practise a transformative, team-based, whole-of-program approach to enhancement


[90] Marginson, S. (2000). Rethinking academic work in the global era. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 22(1), 23-35.

[91] Coates, H., & Goedegebuure, L. (2010). The real academic revolution: Why we need to reconceptualise Australia’s future academic workforce, and eight possible strategies for how to go about this. Melbourne, Australia: LH Martin Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Management.

[92] du Boulay, B., Coultas, J., & Luckin, R. (2008). How compelling is the evidence for the effectiveness of e-learning in the post-16 sector? A review of literature in higher education, the health sector and work-based learning and c-review stakeholder consultation. Brighton, UK: University of Sussex.

[93] Learning technology rovers (2015). Retrieved from http://flexible.learning.ubc.ca/contact/technical-support/

[94] Flexible learning showcase spotlights first round of course transformations. (2013). Retrieved from http://flexible.learning.ubc.ca/news-events/flexible-learning-showcase-spotlights-first-round-of-course-transformations/

[95] Buckley, A., Soilemetzidis, I., & Hillman, N. (2015). The 2015 student academic experience survey. York, UK: The Higher Education Academy.

[96] Boud, D., & Brew, A. (2013). Reconceptualising academic work as professional practice: Implication for academic development. International Journal of Academic Development, 18(3), 1-14.

[97] Pleschová, G., Simon, E., Quinlan, K., Murphy, J., Roxa, T., & Szabó, M. (2012). The professionalisation of academics as teachers in higher education. France: European Science Foundation.

[98] Devlin, M., & Samarawickrema, G. (2010). The criteria of effective teaching in a changing higher education context. Higher Education Research & Development, 29(2), 111-124.

[90] Kember, D. (1997). A reconceptualisation of the research into university academics' conceptions of teaching. Learning and Instruction, 7(3), 255-275.