Meeting a clear need
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.
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.
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.
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.