A Vision for University Science

For more than a century, Australian university science has made game-changing discoveries and achieved extraordinary impact on our environment, our health and our quality of life and work. Concurrently, university science has trained and nurtured generations of scientists and scientific minds that society needs to rapidly adapt to the growing global challenges of the 21st Century.

University science is the only sector that gives graduates the broad knowledge and specialist skills needed to create and work in innovative industries, and keep us ahead of our changing world. By bringing university science together as a sector across the 40+ institutions where science learning and research happens, the Australian Council of Deans of Science can uniquely provide a cohesive vision of university science — its legacy, continued impact and vision for the future. We are ambitious in our goals of delivering a renewed vision of universities science teaching and learning, research translation, and
celebrating and elevating the profile of Australian university science.

The ACDS Strategic Plan sets out the goals and actions including priority projects for 2021. Specifically, our goals are:

  • To drive improvements in university science teaching and learning, pedagogy, curriculum design, and scholarship of teaching and learning.
  • To advocate for sustainable research excellence and research translation, for the benefit of industry and the community, and to enhance Australia’s sovereign capability.
  • To advance the development of the next generation of global science leaders, through professional development and industry engagement.
  • To elevate the profile of Australian university science and the influence and effectiveness of the ACDS through high quality communication with key stakeholders and end users, and positive engagement between Science Deans.

Science provides the key to understanding the physical and living world. As well as the fundamental knowledge provided by science, its application is central to our ability to live in the modern world, to provide resources, to grow our economy, and to care for our community, our health and our environment. We hope you will join us on our journey to deliver the best quality Australian science capability and workforce.

Professor Melissa Brown,
President, ACDS

ACDS 2021-2025 Strategic Plan and 2021 Operational Plan

The ACDS delivers benefits to university science by:

Stragegic Plan Goal 1


The Australian Council of Deans of Science has a long and proud history of supporting university science educators and academic leaders through the ACDS Teaching and Learning Centre. The Centre provides opportunities to debate significant national issues and lead the development of strategies to influence policy, achieve higher education standards and develop communities of practice that enhance teaching and learning, and share as well as showcase teaching scholarship.

Focus areas include Work Integrated Learning, Year 12 prerequisites, the role of education-focussed academics, threshold learning outcomes and incorporating Indigenous knowledge into Science curricula.


The ACDS National Research Network is a collective of research organisational leaders in Australia’s science faculties and schools. The network stimulates the generation and exchange of ideas on enhancing, managing and sustaining a culture of science research excellence and impact in universities, for the benefit of industry and the community, and to enhance Australia’s sovereign capability. It informs national consensus and national policy positions that in turn help Science Deans maintain and expand the quality and influence of University Science research in Australia. The ACDS also leads initiatives that boost industry engagement and career prospects for, and development of, early career scientists.

Stragegic Plan Goal 2

Strategic Plan Goal 3


In order to influence and drive change in university science teaching and research, it is critical that the ACDS is recognised as an authoritative and trusted organisation that listens, acts and achieves outcomes for the sector. This is achieved in part by reputation, but also through effective communication with key stakeholders and end users, and positive engagement between Science Deans.

Areas of focus include (but are not limited to) a strong presence in print, online and social media, regular meetings with Chief Scientists, and strong engagement with Science and Technology Australia. A strong sense of inclusion and value by the Deans and Associate Deans is also essential and is achieved through forums and mentoring programs.



Leading improvements in University Science teaching and learning

Reconceptualising the Bachelor of ScienceThe ACDS will drive curriculum and pedagogy reform in the Bachelor of Science that responds to the needs of students and their employers including leveraging the impact of COVID-19 to improve teaching delivery and assessment post pandemic.Bachelor of Science degrees that are contemporary, embrace diversity and meet the needs of students and their career aspirations, their future employers
National resource sharing projectThe ACDS has established a national ‘creative commons’ of high-quality, peer reviewed online resources for general science subjects in Australian university courses. These are clear in learning outcomes, respond to student needs and enable university science teachers to effectively navigate COVID-19 impacted teaching environments and workloads.Excellence in Australian university science teaching and recognition and support for teaching academics.
Evidence-based lobbying to improve the Job-ready Graduates packageThe Job-ready Graduates package aims to grow university funding to create up to 30,000 new university places by 2024 and provide additional support for students in regional and remote Australia, but also presents challenges to Science faculties. The ACDS will regularly review the impact of the package, including the impact of significant changes in funding for STEM courses, and work with stakeholders to form a consensus position and debate with key external stakeholders.Position papers that build consensus and ultimately influence decisions and drive outcomes.

Driving sustainable research excellence and research translation, and advancing the development of the next generation of global science leaders

Connecting graduates to industryThrough a Graduate Innovation Forum, industry events and activities, create a positive attitude in science graduates towards engaging and working with industry. Generate a strong interest by industry in science graduates as drivers of innovation.Enable a more diverse range of career paths for science PhD graduates and develop future leaders in science innovation in Australia.
Gather evidence of the impact of research on academic teachingUndertake an extensive data gathering activity across Australian university science to understand the impact of research on academic teaching. Raise the profile of research-led teaching.Develop a nationwide snapshot of research-led teaching in university science. Report on the outcome and drive awareness of the importance of reserach-led teaching.
Evidence-based lobbying to drive improved research sustainability and translationThe 2020 Higher Education reforms have separated government funding for teaching and research. While a reduction in teaching funding has already been implemented, and transition funding for teaching and research provided, long-term changes to research funding have yet to be finalised. It is critical that these changes recognise the full cost of research and inclusively enable research translation.Engage with government, research organisations, universities and Universities Australia on 2020 Higher Education reforms that separate government funding for teaching and research. Create position papers that build consensus and ultimately influence decisions and drive outcomes.

Elevating the profile of Australian university science

Showcasing Australian university science and the ACDSShowcase the critical achievements and contributions of Australian university science research and teaching through print, digital and social media, including the Australian University Science magazine, creating opportunities for advocacy and debate on key policy issues relevant to university science.Better awareness and trust in university science and the ACDS.
Enhance the value and reputation of the ACDS within university science
Run multiple events, such as interactive sessions with key leaders across a range of organisations, including a Dean’s Mentoring Program that provides confidential and independent support and guidance for Deans, and a sounding board for problem solving and strategic planning.Strong reputation and advocacy for the ACDS across its member universities and Deans.