Recapping the Town Hall

09 Jun 2023
Insight survey Town Hall

On Wednesday 7 June, more than 2400 UNSW staff tuned in to hear a University-wide update on the Insight survey results.

The event was hosted by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Attila Brungs, Chief Human Resources Officer Deena Amorelli, Acting Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Planning & Assurance, Professor George Williams and Acting Provost and Dean of Arts, Design & Architecture, Professor Claire Annesley.

Hosted virtually as a Teams Live event, Prof. Brungs opened the forum by thanking staff for their time, dedication and care in filling out the Insight Survey.

“People took the time to put in 12,000 comments, ranging from what people are proudest of at UNSW to what we can do better and how we can improve the lives of the UNSW community,” said Prof. Brungs.

The Vice-Chancellor updated staff on the direction of the University, informed by the Insight Survey as well as recent visits to schools and divisions, with topics including resourcing, freeing up staff time, updates to systems and processes, 3+ optimisation and rethinking assessments.

Prof. Brungs also spoke about the challenges of workload and time pressures. He noted that there isn’t a single, simple solution but emphasised the importance of streamlining policies and processes, and thinking about how we can do some things differently. In light of the great work being done across the University even amid these challenges, the Vice-Chancellor highlighted some of the ‘Everyday Extraordinary’ achievements throughout UNSW. These insights into UNSW’s culture of excellence and achievement were highlighted across the areas of education; lifelong learning; research excellence and translation; societal impact; people and culture; and systems, processes and IT.

Finance update

UNSW has released its 2022 annual report, recording an accounting loss of $169 million (with an underlying loss of $118 million). The result is aligned to the results of most public Australian universities which have recorded deficits.

The higher education sector has experienced costs associated with support for return to campus teaching and learning, reduced international student enrolments which remain below pre-pandemic levels, inflation and financial market instability impacting earnings.

Importantly, the losses last year, this year and next year are planned, as the University makes substantial investments in base infrastructure including IT, systems and facilities. Our long term sustainability is our key focus with our investments designed to support longer term revenue growth and efficient operational spend.

Insight Survey

Ms Amorelli updated staff on the results of the Insight Survey noting UNSW engagement was three per cent above the global higher education benchmark. More than 4500 UNSW staff responded to the survey.

Results from the survey

“The next steps are all about UNSW acting on employee feedback with a few concrete actions and transparency about the process,” said Prof. Brungs.

The following graphic outlines the current process of sharing results and implementing action. Looking ahead staff focus groups will be held in July and the University will communicate key actions being implemented from August onwards.

Next steps

In July, UNSW will also undertake an Insight survey for casual staff. This will lead to action on tangible outcomes that benefit casual staff which will be communicated by October 2023.

Next phase of survey

This process will result in one to two cross-University themes, plus two to three per Faculty and Division that will be focus areas for the new few years – areas where we can really make a difference. The University plans to undertake another employee survey in two years, with the aim of seeing improvements in the areas identified for improvement from the 2023 results.


The Town Hall closed with a Question-and-Answer session with Prof. Brungs, Ms Amorelli, Prof. Williams and Prof. Annesley. The discussion covered topics ranging from workload, updated systems and processes, action on the Insight Survey, 3+, the enterprise agreement, AI and in-person learning and interaction at the University.

Due to timing constraints in the Teams Live session, unanswered participant questions will be answered in writing by late June.