RMIT University's Annual Reports cover the financial year from 1 January to 31 December.
They are tabled in the Victorian Parliament and then published as a public record of the University's strategic direction, activities, achievements, governance and financial position.
Annual Report 2016
Guided by our Strategic Plan, Ready for Life and Work, and empowered by the enthusiasm and capability of our staff, RMIT University made substantial headway in 2016 in implementing our three strategic directions.
As part of this, the University launched some significant initiatives to enhance access and outcomes for students and staff. They included:
- The Reconciliation Action Plan, to improve the levels of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in leadership, learning and teaching, research, staff and student participation, and community engagement.
- Our Future Ready program, designed to prepare students for life after university, including access to an individualised final-year Career Health Check.
- Establishment of RMIT Activator, a dynamic platform that empowers students, staff and alumni to create ideas, bring them to life and energise existing start-ups through collaboration, advice and knowledge.
Life-changing experiences for our students
Among students, participation in global mobility programs continued to grow, as did participation in student sports, clubs and activities. We continued to focus on improved learning and teaching technology, career and course advice, mentoring and industry placements. Importantly, all these activities were underpinned by a continuing strong financial performance.
There were two groups of students whose achievements in 2016 deserve special mention. A multidisciplinary team who designed and constructed a functional Hyperloop pod prototype were rewarded with the 2016 Premier’s Design Award (Student Design category). They also competed against 1700 other student teams to win a place in the final of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition.
Three students won medals at the Rio Olympics and Paralympics. Jared Tallent OAM won silver in the 50km walk, becoming the only Australian male athletics competitor to win a medal at three consecutive Olympics. In the Paralympics pool, Ashleigh McConnell won gold and set a world record and Monique Murphy won silver.
Passion with purpose, powered by our values
In an exciting development for RMIT, we held our inaugural Sustainability Week. Highlights included a tour of RMIT’s green roofs, an “ideas incubator” pitching session, ethical and sustainable food tours near the City campus, networking opportunities with industry partners, and Earth Hour.
Work continued on the Sustainable Urban Precincts Program, RMIT’s biggest ever investment in energy and water efficiency. The $128 million project aims to reduce electricity use by 263 million kWh over eight years, leading to a 32,000-tonne reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Water use will be cut by 53 million litres.
To this end, works were completed at Brunswick campus and neared completion at Bundoora campus. The annual reduction of CO2 emissions of almost 11,000 tonnes enabled RMIT to achieve our greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 25 per cent four years early.
The New Academic Street project continued to transform the heart of the City campus by creating new facilities that will enable RMIT to deliver better services for students and improved facilities for all. During 2016, first works were completed across 13 buildings, including two on Bundoora campus.
Shaping the world through teaching and research
We continued to improve our global position in the 2016 QS World University Rankings, with RMIT now ranked 13th in Australia and 252nd overall: a rise of 52 places from 2014. For the first time, RMIT has appeared in the Academic Ranking of World Universities’ top 500.
These results reflect RMIT’s strengthening record in delivering research with impact. We received significant external research funding in 2016, with a 12 per cent increase in grant application numbers and a 61 per cent increase in application success rates compared with the previous year. Our researchers received $9.27 million in Australian Research Council grants for 23 projects.
Further confirmation of our research standing came with the award to Associate Professor Sharath Sriram of the 2016 3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science.
Our global scale continues to make an impact. RMIT Vietnam, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2016, has launched a new Master of Architecture as well as a new PhD program with a focus on research in business, management and engineering. RMIT Europe secured the first award of European research funding to RMIT Vietnam through the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation funding scheme.
RMIT Europe also delivered the first Global Summer in Barcelona event, with 30 RMIT students from Australia, Vietnam and Singapore taking part.
The whole RMIT community is rising to the challenge of building a stronger and more effective university. I have confidence this will continue in 2017 and beyond.
Martin Bean CBE
Vice-Chancellor and President