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University purpose: Responsibilities to national policy makers & national institutions

Analysis of performance against purpose

In 2019, among other highlights, ANU has been working in three streams to fulfil its role as the national university.
They are:

  1. Contributing to conversations of national significance with policy makers on issues challenging our nation, through various events.
  2. Building a stronger bridge to directly collaborate and connect with policy makers through regular ANU-Australian Public Service network meetings, the Policy Greenhouse Fund projects, and developing the planned reinvigoration of Public Policy Fellows program.
  3. Building ANU academics’ capability to achieve policy impact, through training sessions, advisory services and an online repository with curated information and advice on influencing public policy.

Highlights in 2019

Trends in Trust

The 2019 Crawford Leadership Forum theme ‘Trends in Trust’ placed a particular focus on evidence of declining trust in institutions across the world’s mature democracies. The discussions also centred on major changes in global dynamics, as well as a range of domestic and international issues. The forum was attended by more than 200 participants, including senior colleagues from the business, academic, government and community sectors.

First Nations Treaty Forum
The First Nations Treaty Forum explored the significance of treaty for Indigenous people and communities. The forum brought together Indigenous leaders from across the nation, academics, lawyers and members of the policy making community. Across the two days, more than 100 participants attended the forum, exploring a range of options from a single treaty to multi-lateral treaties between Indigenous nations. The forum examined a range of legal frameworks that will help to conclude treaties and resolve issues of interpretation and disputes that may arise in the future.

Policy Greenhouse Fund projects
The Policy Greenhouse Fund was launched in May 2019. Funding 14 collaboration projects between ANU academics and Australian Public Service (APS) policy makers, it provides the policy community with a pathway to engage ANU academics, and to co-design research questions of significant policy interest. Public service departments involved in the fund include the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, and the Department of Social Services. The project teams are expected to produce policy briefs relevant to their research topics by the end of 2020.

Performance criterion

Annual independent evaluations of ANU impact in public policy, demonstrating improvement year-on-year

Criterion source

ANU Strategic Plan 2019–2022, Key Performance Indicator 6, p.25

Result against performance criterion

Partially achieved

Analysis of performance

The Nous Group, an independent consultancy firm, delivered a Baseline Assessment Report on the University’s public policy impact on 28 February 2019. Overall, the University was assessed as starting from a position of strength, based on the assessment of impact case studies, interviews with key internal and external stakeholders, and information in public documents.

The report assessed the reach of the University’s research impact in public policy as broad and spanning a wide range of impact areas. The report assessed that ANU demonstrated an emerging baseline capability against four lead indicators above and beyond the University’s regular teaching and academic research activities. These were:

  • contribution to public policy discourse
  • influence with policy makers
  • knowledge and capability sharing
  • policy coproduction.

It was noted that the University’s performance against these indicators would be strengthened by increased architecture and systems that support and enable the development of public policy capability, and the curation of impact measurement and reporting. The report assessed that ANU demonstrated developing levels of public policy research impact on a whole-of-institution basis across national policy, and Asia and the Pacific. It was noted that impact in both domains was driven largely by individuals rather than a more systemic approach and broader capabilities.

The report recommended the University take a more strategic and deliberate approach moving forward, investing in architecture and capability to enable a more complete and compelling narrative about its policy impact across all relevant parts of the University.

Annual independent evaluations of ANU impact in public policy, demonstrating improvement year-on-year