As part of UWA 2030, the Education Portfolio is establishing a UWA Regional Strategy. The Strategy aims to strengthen and support the existing education, research and community engagement activities of the Albany Campus, and make UWA an active stakeholder that contributes to the economic development and social and knowledge capital of Regional, Rural, and Remote (RRR) communities across the State. The Regional Strategy will ensure UWA continues to serve as the University for Western Australia.
To date we have completed the first phase of the development of the Regional Strategy, which includes market research, an impact study, and a Principles Definition Workshop with key internal stakeholders at UWA. We are currently developing an asset map, identifying the University’s assets and presence across the State.
The Principles Definition Workshop was an essential feature to the first phase of the development of the Regional Strategy. Its purpose was to develop a set of pillars and principles as the foundation for the Strategy. To succeed, the Strategy must be grounded in evidence. Key UWA staff and students were identified and invited to participate; these individuals were nominated based on their experience and content expertise. Drawing on the expertise of staff and students was – and is – vital to ensuring we are developing a strategy that is framed to support the already extensive knowledge capital and expertise of education, research and engagement in the regions.
There was representation from across the University and State, including undergraduate and postgraduate students, and staff from the Education and Research Portfolio; UWA Albany Campus; the Western Australia Centre for Rural Health (WACRH); the Rural Clinical School; the School of Indigenous Studies; the Centre for Regional Development and Future Farm. Faculty members teaching and researching in the regions were also present.
We collaborated with the Centre for Social Impact UWA to run the one-day workshop and used a co-design futures methodology to unpack layers of the dominant construct and discourse on UWA and regional Western Australia. Overall participants drew out similar themes, which for many had been their lived experiences. The process provided space to construct alternative scenarios to the current situation. The outcomes are summarised in a set of principles, pillars and critical drivers.
These outcomes are grounded in the experiences and expertise of workshop participants and will inform the upcoming UWA Regional Strategy Green Paper. This Green Paper will outline a draft strategy and invite feedback from the UWA and RRR communities across the state. Prior to the disruption of COVID-19, the Regional Strategy Advisory Group had been established. This group consists of UWA experts who will meet throughout the year to provide advice on the progress of the Strategy. Whilst the Advisory group is currently not actively meeting, we look forward to resuming this important internal stakeholder group to review the UWA Regional Strategy Green Paper and to continue to guide the development of this important piece of work.
The success of the Regional Strategy depends on a process which is inclusive of all stakeholders, is underpinned by an ethos of equity and access to education for all, and is evidence-driven, with an overall commitment and ownership of the strategy across the UWA community. We will continue this conversation and invite comment from a broad variety of stakeholders as we work together to develop a strategy that is for all Western Australians.