Professor Dawn Freshwater
2017 was a year of significant development and transformation for the University as we continued to progress and implement strategies to improve the quality and relevance of our learning, teaching and research. Our focus was also on deepening our engagement with industry and the community, and continuing to strengthen our international outlook.
Western Australia is the gateway to the Indo-Pacific, an area of immense economic and social opportunity and home to 60 per cent of the world's population. As one of the leading universities in the region, we contribute to its future prosperity by forging new partnerships with global academic and government institutions, and attracting some of the world's best and brightest thought leaders to our State and nation. To this end, in 2017 we launched a recruitment campaign to attract 50 world-leading researchers and academics. This ‘Be Inspired' campaign is now well established and we are proud to be adding to, and enhancing, our existing foci.
Throughout the year The University of Western Australia received a significant boost to its international reputation with improvements in key 2017 rankings — the QS World University Rankings, Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) and Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. In addition, in 2017 we successfully implemented changes from a sector-leading functional and structural reform — the largest seen in the University's history. This has prepared the University well to undertake the development of its new 2030 Decadal Vision and Strategic Plan for the University, which commenced towards the end of the year and will set an ambitious agenda for the future.
The University continues to enjoy strong support from across the community, including industry and government, which are increasingly turning to the University as a source of knowledge and expertise. As an example of how this working partnership helps to boost innovation, the University received a $447 million investment in industrial software from the global technology company Siemens to help students develop the skills needed for the highly digitalised world of the future.
The University was also acknowledged for its leadership in offshore renewable energy research and technology with a grant from the State Government to establish a new wave energy centre in Albany. These initiatives, along with the opening of the world-class Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre earlier in the year, demonstrate that UWA is positioned to conduct and translate research into quality teaching which will develop the leaders of tomorrow.
Universities have a critical role to play in helping graduates become global citizens and critical thinkers, with the skills to innovate and improve people's lives through their work. In 2017 we continued to enhance the student experience to support this. In an Australian-first, UWA partnered with Harvard Business School through its HBX platform, to provide local students with access to some of the best online courses in the world. We also launched a new summer school program, providing students with an additional teaching period and the choice of 70 units with more than 1300 students enrolling.
As 2017 came to a close, the University celebrated the end of its New Century Campaign, raising more than $400 million to support world-class teaching, research and community engagement. I would like to thank the more than 12,000 individuals, foundations and corporate partners who generously supported the University.
At the end of the year we welcomed a new Chancellor, Dr Robert French, an experienced leader of international standing, and in turn farewelled and acknowledged our immediate past Chancellor, Dr Michael Chaney, for his 12-year commitment to the University and enormous personal investment.
The University has enjoyed a most successful year in 2017 and I take this opportunity to thank our staff, students and community for their ongoing support.
Professor Dawn Freshwater