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 one in 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. By 2021, 23 universities from the UK and Ireland had joined the program. In 2017, UniForum launched to Canada, with 3 universities forming a new chapter and by 2021 this had grown 7 universities.
In April 2021, Cubane was acquired by Nous Group, an international management consultancy with over 400 people working across Australia, the UK and Canada. The partnership between Nous and Cubane stems from over a decade of working together, supporting shared university clients around the world to drive transformative change. From this experience, we believe that the insights offered by UniForum coupled with access to Nous’ expertise in shaping and implementing improvement programs offers our university clients the opportunity to further strengthen the strategic management of their professional and administrative services.
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. Our partnership with Nous ensures that Cubane, and the UniForum program is well placed to grow and further develop our benchmarking offer and services to clients.