The Corporate Services portfolio provides services across Campus Management; Finance; Information Technology; Service Delivery; Strategy, Planning and Performance; and Venues Management.
In all of these areas, we are focused on ensuring the University is recognised as a vibrant, sustainable and connected hub that welcomes our students, staff, partners, the community and the wider world.
During 2019, we balanced day-to-day activities with laying the foundations to implement the Strategic Plan 2020- 2025. This has included delivery of a Campus Master Plan and IT roadmap, deployment of a Targeted Financial Strategy supported by activity-based costing, and initiation of the Services Project. The latter will provide contemporary and flexible services to support UWA’s research, education and engagement activity. Combined, these initiatives pave the way to achieving the Sustainable Environments, and Effective and Sustainable Operations components of the Strategic Plan.
Venues Management (including the University Club) community engagement activities have delivered positive results on the back of increased booking activity. This has included the coordination and delivery of approximately 10,000 bookings and catering for over 750,000 people. This has helped facilitate a contribution of $30,000 in student scholarships, raising the Club’s overall contribution to date to $200,000.
The University Club remains a world-class event facility with a self-funded reinvestment program. In 2019 it has seen refurbishment of the Banquet Hall, upgrades to the Club’s audio-visual systems and the purchase of significant new kitchen and refrigeration equipment. Leading sustainability efforts, the University Club has implemented a food waste collection project. This has been formally recognised by the City of Perth and has diverted 15.6 tonnes of food waste from landfill in only six months. This figure is expected to quadruple in 2020 as we expand the program to other areas on campus.
The Campus Management and IT directorates have collaborated on the delivery of the new Campus Master Plan, which will guide the next decade of physical and digital campus developments. This will balance the need for the provision of contemporary facilities for students, researchers and community partners with protecting the campus’s heritage values.
In May the UWA app was launched. It enables students to use their mobile device to locate relevant University events, find their way around campus, and utilise services for wellbeing and support. This has been paralleled by greater digitisation of student-facing activity. The digitisation has been conducted in consultation with students and implements improvements in online learning environments, resulting in improved student information and administration. A new international agent portal has unified application and acceptance into one portal, delivering an improved, seamless user experience to agents and applicants. Work continues to upgrade and replace our critical systems and ICT infrastructure, including extending campus-wide Wi-Fi and telephony coverage.
We continue to invest in new state-of the-art facilities. Significant milestones were notably achieved in building new facilities, with the completion of the EZONE UWA Student Hub in 2019. Work continues to take shape on the final construction of the $80 million EZONE project, which will support learning, teaching and industry engagement innovations, improve the student experience and strengthen collaboration with industry. Now and into the future, the facility itself will also serve as a teaching tool. This project has been supported by multimillion-dollar investments from leading corporations including BHP and Woodside, as well as generous gift donations from a number of alumni. Strong progress continues on construction of the Bilya Marlee (River of the Swan) building, which will house the School of Indigenous Studies, Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health, and Poche Centre for Indigenous Health. Both buildings are scheduled for completion in 2020.
In 2019 there has also been a strong focus on service improvement. Customer service standards have been monitored through a satisfaction survey, and training has been implemented. While the survey has shown a near five percent improvement in service satisfaction, there is further need for innovation and improvement. To drive this, the Services Project has been initiated. This two-year project will modernise our professional services towards effective and sustainable operations, as outlined in our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. To date, the project has seen the automation of some simple services and the design of new approaches to customer interactions across finance, human resources, campus management, information technology, marketing, student recruitment and student support services. Implementation will progress from January 2020 in consultation with service users. The project aims to increase user satisfaction and operational performance through digitisation, automation and simplification of our current practices. Planning in the final quarter of 2019 has focused on increasing scale and accelerating pace of change in 2020.
Finally, a strong focus on appropriate expenditures and cost control has delivered projected 2019 financial outcomes. This positions us well to maintain the momentum we have generated to progress the strategic change program into 2020.
Chief Operating Officer