Part V: Consolidation, 2003 - Present

The new UNSW-Defence agreement was reviewed in 2007. UNSW was assessed as the nation’s top university for teaching and learning. As part of continuous improvement, a 2011 survey found that 87.95 percent of UNSW Canberra graduates were satisfied overall with their degree program compared with the national benchmark of 83.56 percent. In terms of teaching, 74.04 percent of UNSW Canberra students believed they had experienced good teaching compared with the national benchmark of 68.77 percent.

There was also a rapid expansion in the number of Professional Short Courses offered by the University principally to uniformed people, civilian staff in the Department of Defence and the growing Defence industry sector. In 2008, there were 116 separate courses attracting 1040 participants with 79 percent coming from Defence. These courses produced $1.3 million in income for the University and plainly met a pressing need. By 2012, the number of courses had been rationalised but their value exceeded $2 million.

The fifty-year relationship between UNSW and Defence has produced many substantial achievements in teaching, learning and research. UNSW Canberra is proud of the contribution its staff has made to the personal and professional development of Australia’s defence leaders and the standing of the University within and beyond the nation. The relationship with Defence has been made to work despite myriad distractions, disturbances and disruptions. The core of the relationship – the provision of a ‘balanced and liberal’ education – has produced at least two generations of officers who have proved their worth in a range of appointments.

UNSW has been responsible for creating an environment beyond the Service colleges and the Academy in which critical commentary and forthright conclusions are encouraged and esteemed. This environment has influenced the quality of advice the Government has received from Defence and is the type of contribution that Professor Sir Philip Baxter hoped the University would make to the Commonwealth. When the UNSW-Defence relationship began in 1967, Australia was involved in a controversial counterinsurgency campaign in Vietnam. Half a century later, Australia is involved in a complicated counterinsurgency conflict in Afghanistan. In the context of controversy and complication, the relationship remains of abiding importance to the nation and its interests.