Driving improvement in university administration worldwide, Cubane’s UniForum is a unique consultancy program for exchanging data, insights and best practices in a moderated forum setting.

Read more about the program

What is the
UniForum Program?

The UniForum program provides university management with the means to manage strategically their administration and support services, leveraging the power of sharing information, learning from one another and collaboration

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Generate insights that count

With UniForum, you join a cohort of similarly positioned institutions pursuing a carefully directed, multi-year program of information sharing, performance analysis and best practice sharing to enable your institution to deliver operational improvement.

Participants follow common procedures for gathering detailed data across a wide range of administrative activities and contributing to a pool of normalized and genuinely comparable information. This highly rigorous approach ensures meaningful analysis of robust, locally owned data and supports discussion of insights with other forum members worldwide. Through the open collaboration with peers, universities can “see the future” and extract full value from lessons others have learned.

While Cubane provides guidance and specialized expertise, members have significant influence on the forum’s focus. UniForum positions you to measure your institution’s relative administrative performance, gain clear direction for making better strategic choices and assess long-term implementation success on an always up-to-date, factual basis.


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Follow a rigorous, structured approach

Individually and in collaboration, UniForum members engage in an annual cycle of activities and events that rotate through three successive phases:

1

Data
Collection

  • With Cubane’s guidance and tools, you gather detailed data on the allocation of employee- and supplier-provided capacity to over 150 key activities across 14 functional areas.
  • You also survey employees for feedback on the professional services provided to support them in their roles.

2

Briefings and
Workshops

  • Supported by Cubane, forum partners meet to review the latest results, and Cubane subsequently provides university-specific briefings to each member.
  • Cubane subjects all submitted data to proprietary statistical analysis to protect the integrity of intra-university comparison from distortions related to differences in geography, scale and research intensity.

3

Collaborative
Studies (after Year I)

  • In collaboration with your forum partners, you will have opportunities to review in Cubane-led workshops, the performance of select management functions or to direct Cubane toward the detailed study of critical resource drivers chosen from among a wide range.

The completion of the UniForum program cycle is punctuated by an annual conference in which forum members come together to share strategies they are adopting to improve services as well as experiences and lessons learned from these efforts. As members pass through successive cycles, measurement of outcomes becomes embedded in the management process and continuous improvement processes become the norm for service delivery teams.


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Drive efficiency and effectiveness
today and tomorrow
 

UniForum enables continuous improvement in university administration. It delivers a regularly updated stream of carefully curated data and expert analysis to ensure that you can see your institution in comparison with others accurately and gain a sure sense of what best practices and their costs look like.

Common benefits realized include better strategic thinking on how to deploy capabilities for more efficient and effective delivery, more rational deployment of management leadership, better role design to reflect needs of the institution and the local mission, enhanced deployment of capability across the organization and improved performance. Your workforce will have new opportunities for training and career development. In many cases for the first time, universities in the program are able to provide employees with a roadmap to more rewarding career options wherever they are employed in the organization.

Since UniForum is not a one-time event but an ongoing program, the positive changes are measurable and continuous.

Meeting a clear need
 

The Context

UniForum was founded in 2009 by a sitting university administrator and a former academic who recognized a clear need in university management: a model for improving efficiency and effectiveness that relied on something significantly more powerful than standard benchmarking.


The Issue

Jonathan Blakeman, then VP Finance and Operations at University of New South Wales and Cubane’s Edward Curry-Hyde, previously an academic at UNSW, identified two flaws in the prevailing approach. Insufficient effort is invested in the collection of robust data and enthusiasm for improving administrative performance typically fades once benchmarking exercises have yielded the comparative metrics. Without investing effort in understanding what is driving the results, institutions either dismiss them or risk drawing simplistic conclusions that undermine their larger effort.
 

The Response

Jonathan saw that collaboration, already well established among academics across universities, offered university managers a much sounder basis for driving administrative improvement than benchmarking alone. Combining collaboration with a robust data collection exercise, managers could go well beyond simple benchmarking and draw more strategic insights from their collective work. UniForum was created out of this analysis.


The Results

Beginning with the recruitment of 3 universities in Australia and New Zealand, UniForum proved sufficiently successful, sufficiently quickly, that an additional 20 southern hemisphere universities soon joined. By 2015, a group of 9 Russell Group universities formed a UK UniForum chapter and soon enlisted an additional 9. In 2017,  UniForum came to Canada, with 3 universities forming a new chapter.

From the beginning Cubane’s focus has been on working closely with the member universities to develop robust data collections and ways to make comparisons that deliver strategic insights. This collaborative development has been a key part of ensuring UniForum develops in ways that meet the needs of the universities as they progress on their journeys to develop services that best support the academic mission.