How can we continue to contribute to the development of prosperous, equitable and sustainable environments in which every member of our global community can thrive?

This theme explored how RMIT can continue to drive impact in a rapidly changing world.

The global RMIT community shared their thoughts on the role of international universities in creating public good. We heard from staff, students, and industry partners through workshops, forums and online conversations about the challenges and opportunities we are facing, and the next steps we need to take.

Key insights emerging from the discussions include:

  • RMIT needs to retest our global mission and vision to position us for impact: COVID-19 has accelerated the drivers of change, accentuating inequalities and adjusting globalisation in profound ways. As border closures and restrictions have normalised digital working, learning and socialising, the social and economic contexts in which RMIT operates have been significantly altered. At the same time, the world order is unravelling, not least through the rise and rise of China as a super-power. In this rapidly changing global environment, RMIT needs to reexamine what it means to be a global university and retest our mission and vision to ensure our strategy is equipped to position us for ongoing impact.
  • Students want to drive impact in a radically changing world. From grassroots transformation across the Asia Pacific region to a growing global consciousness around social themes, COVID-19 has prompted many communities to reevaluate traditional systems and led communities and individuals to return to fundamental questions around meaning and impact. With a resetting of meaning, our students in the future will be more focused than ever on driving impact – and regenerating, rather than extracting from the societies where we operate.
  • We can lead an ecosystem of innovation across the Asia Pacific. RMIT is uniquely positioned within the Asia Pacific region to foster an ecosystem of innovation and regeneration. By creating learning environments that move beyond the notion of education as a platform for knowledge transfer, we can cultivate a collaborative ecosystem that empowers our students to realise their potential for genius and supports the region’s young leaders to question the systems that perpetuate current challenges. Further, through using the convening power of our existing government and industry networks, as well as the new opportunities for partnership created by shifting geopolitical dynamics, we are well placed to drive new pathways for innovation, supporting the communities in which we operate to shape more responsive and sustainable futures.
  • The way we support the Asia Pacific to recover from COVID-19 will define our platform for ongoing impact in the region. While the pandemic has had a divergent impact across the region, it has also prompted a convergence of the themes and challenges countries are facing, creating opportunities for Australia to contribute. The current intensity of Government-to-Government dialogue makes more critical the role of a University to play a key part in Australia’s influence in the region. For RMIT, there is a clear opportunity to work with governments and industries to meet the education and human capital needs created by the disruption of the pandemic, as well as to respond to the growing inequalities and social themes brought to the fore during COVID-19. The way we interact with the region during this critical time, including how we help disadvantaged communities access opportunities, will have a significant impact on the future of the region and our place within it. The role we establish along the path to recovery will either be an enabler or barrier to our future opportunities for growth and impact.
  • A good strategy is as much about deciding what we’re not going to do. There is no end to opportunity out there. The fast acceptance and adoption of digital learning across the region during COVID-19 are prompting new models of education, creating implications that unlock vast opportunities for global universities like RMIT. As we look to the future, we need to focus on cultivating broad-scale partnerships that will create sustainable pathways for impact. This will require us to make strategic choices to determine the unique areas where we can drive scaled impact and differentiate the RMIT brand amongst a growing pool of digitally connected competitors.
  • We can’t revert to our pre-COVID ways. While Australia is beginning to emerge from the impacts of the pandemic and has begun welcoming students back to campus, we need to ensure the lessons we’ve learnt and the capabilities we’ve developed remain a tool in our armoury forevermore. We have an unprecedented opportunity to combine new innovations in online and hybrid learning with the dynamism of teaching and engaging in person, to create truly global and life-changing experiences that will prepare our students for a rapidly changing future within the Asia Pacific and beyond.

As part of the engagement around RMIT’s NEXT university-wide strategy, RMIT also held a forum, hosted by Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean alongside an expert panel of international thought leaders to discuss the emerging global challenges and opportunities in a post-pandemic environment, and how RMIT should best respond to them. 

Joined by an audience of RMIT staff, students and alumni from all around the world, the forum discussed how tertiary institutions can drive impact in a constantly changing environment, led by the insights and perspectives of three authorities on the subject.

During the one-hour session, the audience explored how RMIT can drive impact from the lens of social justice and inclusion, the role of technology and education in a post-pandemic world and the overarching thematic issues that are shaping the world around us.  

Head of Google for Education, JAPAC at Google Cloud Colin Marson reflected on how COVID-19 accelerated a shift that was already underway.  

“From an education angle, there is a lot of transformation happening across APAC countries.” 

“Often when we talk about innovation, we think about big tech companies, however, most of the innovation is micro-level by professors, teachers and students.”  

Co-Founder & Chair Australia Vietnam Leadership Dialogue Cat Thao Nguyen spoke to the impact the pandemic has had on inequality.  

‘While COVID has accelerated the uptake of innovation technology, it has also made inequality in some respects quite heightened. Issues like climate change, ecological and social movements have been mainstreamed into all aspects of society.’ 

The forum highlighted just how much has changed as a result of the pandemic. While the University is in a rapidly changing environment riddled with challenges, we are also in a new era filled with opportunity. 

You can replay the event here.

Keep reading to see the community inputs and ideas on this important theme.

All of the insights gathered from the Reflections Phase will be incorporated into a Directions Paper, outlining the potential directions that will shape the final strategy and where we are heading as a University. The Directions will be launched in July!

While the pandemic has, in many ways, felt like being in a state of suspension, the drivers of change have been moving around in unpredictable and unprecedented ways. Across the globe, we can observe how social distancing has altered our relationship with place, technology, community and governments, intensifying shifts, exacerbating inequalities and accelerating the trajectory of change.

We are exploring what it means to be an international university in the fast-changing world, and our place and purpose in the society and communities where we operate. As we shift our focus to the future and towards 2025, we consider how COVID-19 has changed the way we define and deliver our core functions – creating new opportunities for learning, research, innovation, scientific cooperation and the transition to a low-carbon, digitally integrated economy.

Great work is already being done all around RMIT, in thinking through how we continue to contribute to the development of prosperous, equitable and sustainable societies and environments in which all members of our global community can thrive.

Read on to discover the theme: Global. Explore expert views and examples of thought-leadership from our Global Executive Discussion Series updates and wider global community and join in the conversation on where and how RMIT can continue to create impact in the world of tomorrow.


Analysis and thought-leadership from around the world, and important questions for us to consider

Global Updates Worldwide perspectives and ideas • How do we continue providing our students with global exposure to cooperate across disciplines and locations, and contribute to solving the greatest challenges we face worldwide? ​ • How do we ensure environmental sustainability continues to be a priority and part of our global identity?​ • How should we look to invest in our local communities and co-create solutions to local and regional challenges?​ • How can we creatively utilise technology to further transform our offerings and make them accessible to a wider population - no matter who they are or where they are located? • How can RMIT collaborate with industry to drive change and co-create the future economic landscape? • How do we unify our global approach to student recruitment, partnerships and pathways?​ • How do we maximise the opportunities for inter-cultural learning between different countries and locations as the region adapts to transformative changes?

Join the conversation

Share your thoughts, ambitions, and experiences on what this could mean at RMIT