Community Day festivities, exceptional accolades and a major philanthropic milestone – 28 November 2023

28 Nov 2023
Community Day

Dear colleagues

What a tremendous Community Day we had last Wednesday! It was wonderful seeing colleagues and their families enjoying the festivities together on a glorious sunny afternoon. With an estimated 4000 people at the event, the atmosphere was one of fun and celebration. The opportunity to relax and spend some downtime together was well needed – and certainly well deserved! – after another busy year, in which we’ve achieved so much as a University community.

It is a privilege to work with a group of such passionate, talented people. I enjoyed chatting to many of you, being introduced to kids and families, and seeing colleagues take time out to enjoy each other’s company and partake in the delicious food (I may have sampled more than one donut!) and activities across upper campus. I was particularly pleased to see the joy brought by our new approach to children’s rides, though disappointed with the height restriction on the dodgem cars. A special thank you to all the people involved in creating this wonderful event, including our colleagues in the Venues & Events, Security, Parking and Cleaning teams, for providing seamless services.

Community Day
Above: The crowd begins to gather on the Library Lawn for Community Day.

Community Day
Above: The Venues & Events Team made Community Day a great success. Thank you!

Community Day
Above: Relaxing and playing giant Connect 4 on the Michael Birt Lawn. See one of my favourite installations on RHS…Hot Fresh Donuts!

Top: Bean bags, bubbles and a breezy vibe on the Library Lawn.

UNSW number one for career outcomes

Every week seems to come with a new ranking scheme, but I’m pleased that UNSW has recently been ranked second overall and first in Australia for career outcomes according to a new ranking published by the Australian Financial Review (AFR) last week. Supporting the successes of our students and graduates, as demonstrated by employment outcomes, really is at the heart of the University. In the inaugural Best Universities Ranking from the AFR, UNSW ranked first for ‘career outcomes’, second for ‘research’ and ‘global reputation’, and second university overall in Australia. The rankings, using QILT scores as a proxy for student experience, again highlighted ongoing need for our improvement plan in this space and I am very confident that our new Gateway expansion, increased support and targets for access and success will completely turn around the historic data used for the student equity score by the AFR.

UNSW’s results in the inaugural AFR Best Universities Ranking are emblematic of our dedication to excellence and student success, equipping our students to secure employment after graduation and excel in their chosen fields, and testament to our long track record of world-class research translated into positive societal impact. Of course, this would not be possible without the ongoing commitment of our dedicated teaching, research and professional staff. Thank you for bringing your energy, enthusiasm and expertise to work every day, to ensure the best possible outcomes for our students and broader community.

Major philanthropic milestone for UNSW

I’m delighted to report that UNSW has hit an impressive milestone and collectively raised $100 million through philanthropy, for the first year ever. I am immensely grateful for the tremendous generosity of our philanthropic community. Just over 4000 donors, including 1200 alumni, have made a gift to our University this year. Thank you to all who have played a part in contributing to this very significant accomplishment. Your hard work and dedication have enabled us to reach this milestone. Through your collective efforts, we are enriching lives, propelling research and having a positive impact in our community. Read more in this edition of Inside UNSW

Professor Megan Davis named Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities

Pro Vice-Chancellor Society Scientia Professor Megan Davis has been elected a Fellow by the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Megan now has a hat trick of fellowships: the Australian Academy of the Humanities, Australian Academy of Law and Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. What an extraordinary achievement!

Megan has also been named one of Marie Claire magazine’s 2023 Women of the Year for her inspirational commitment to justice and equity. It follows Megan’s inclusion on the esteemed TIME100 Next List in September.

Megan's election as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities is fitting testament to her dedication to scholarship and advocacy across human rights and constitutional law. Megan is a true champion of evidence-based change. Her exceptional leadership and advocacy for the rights of First Nations and Torres Strait Islander people over the past two decades, including the pivotal role she played in the dialogue surrounding the Voice to Parliament, alongside her commitment to scholarship, social justice and equity, are inspirational.

Faculty and Division visits

Over the last month I have had the pleasure of visiting our Faculties and Divisions to hear about your accomplishments and challenges and share information about what is happening at an organisational level. It’s been great to see so many people at these visits. My thanks to all those who took the time to come, hear about some of the University’s foci over the past year and priorities for the year ahead, and importantly for sharing your thoughts and ideas with me.

Safety at UNSW

As you know, safety is one of our top priorities. The University is continually updating and improving its approach to safety to create a University environment that is as safe as possible for everyone in our community. In my last message, I wrote about the launch of Safer Communities, an initiative which coordinates and enhances all the University’s efforts in gendered violence, managing psychosocial risk and respect at work.

Building on this, we also have mechanisms in place for members of the UNSW community to report other issues they may be concerned about. This is important at all times, and never more so than now, with some of the behaviour that has been experienced by members of the University community. If you want to speak up about something you have seen or experienced that isn’t or doesn’t feel right, we are here to support you.

  • If you see or experience something that requires immediate assistance, please contact Security.
  • You can speak up and make a complaint via the button on the bottom of each page of our Website. This link takes you to the Complaints Portal.

University leaders actively monitor, respond and make proactive changes to keep the UNSW community safe at this time. They are also making a number of policy and protocol recommendations and changes as well as investing in additional resources to enable the University to better protect our students and staff through both prevention and response.  

UNSW is finalising its amendments to change its Anti-Racism Policy to an Anti-Racism and Anti-Religious Vilification Policy to ensure all members of our community are aware that racism and religious harassment, discrimination and vilification will not be tolerated at UNSW; the protections they have; and how the university can respond to support them. The Anti-Racism and Anti-Religious Vilification Policy is clear, in the strongest terms, that the University rejects all forms of racial and religious discrimination, harassment and vilification. These changes are also in accordance with recent changes to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act. The policy is now open for consultation on the policy website.

Please remember UNSW has a range of support services available for students and staff, including the Student Support Team, and a confidential counselling service for staff and their families through the Employee Assistance Program.

UNSW’s Societal Impact Framework

As I shared in my last Inside UNSW message, we are developing the University’s first Societal Impact Framework to determine the areas where UNSW can have the greatest impact on society and help us focus our efforts for maximum effect. Consultation is a vital part of the process. We want to hear from you. The Discussion Paper for the Societal Impact Framework has been released, so please do take a look if you are able and provide your feedback. You can find out more in this edition of Inside UNSW or visit the Societal Impact Framework website.  

There’s plenty more Inside UNSW…

I never cease to be amazed by the vast array of fascinating and groundbreaking work taking place around our University. Here are some highlights from the past fortnight:

Congratulations to all on these wonderful achievements!

As we wind down towards the end of the year, you can find all you need to know about campus operations over the shutdown period in this edition of Inside UNSW.

Best regards

Professor Attila Brungs
Vice-Chancellor and President