Events » Service Improvement and Innovation in Universities

Service Improvement and Innovation in Universities

19 - 20 October 2017
Pier One, Sydney Harbour
Early bird registrations now open

Building on earlier successful Service Improvement conferences at the University of South Australia in 2012 and the University of Newcastle in 2013, the LH Martin Institute ran its first Service Improvement and Innovation in Universities conference in Melbourne in 2015 with guidance and support from a steering group of senior university sector leaders. With over 100 delegates attending, this two-day event was very well received. The second annual Service Improvement and Innovation in Universities Conference was held in Brisbane in 2016 and it is back in again in Sydney in 2017.

This year, the conference will be taking on a new and innovative format. Our broad aim remains building our capability as institutions, however as the true experts, we encourage participants to be the drivers of their own learning.


1. Innovation Powered by Skills (Major, Minor)
Many times we are asked, “but what is innovation?” or “how do I innovate?” This theme challenges the way we think about innovation and what that means in different contexts within the sector, our lives and our work. Participants will explore different concepts of innovation, and learn new skills for innovation.

2. Collective Buying Power (Minor)
With budget cuts looming on the horizon, how can we as institutions improve the efficiency and effectiveness of procurement practices to gain the best value for money? This theme explores the concepts behind and methods for shared procurement within the sector and what savings can be made when we harness our collective buying power.

3. The Power of Collaboration (Major, Minor)
The nature of universities is traditionally characterised by competition, however in the context of open innovation the realistation grows that collaborating and sharing knowledge and information has a very positive impact on innovation and the effectiveness of individual organisations. So what can we learn from others? This theme will walk through how universities partner with other universities, state and local governments, and industry and community organisations.

4. Powerful Communities (Minor)
What is the value of reaching out? This theme builds on the notion of collaboration to look at the broader socio-economic impact for the community when strong universities partner with local stakeholders to foster inclusiveness and build a sense of community that reaches beyond the campus borders.


That’s right, it’s back to Uni! Participants will be asked to select a Major and a Minor to study over the two-day conference. Keynote sessions and in-depth workshops cover the Major themes, while breakout sessions will be split into the Minor streams.

Between sessions, head to the Study Hall to brainstorm with your peers and problem-solve issues you are facing, soundboard ideas and develop some actions for change. Participants are encouraged to join an ideas factory or networking table over meal breaks, or volunteer for one of the audience led sessions.

Study Hall: This is your chance to meet with your majors group to discuss your reflections and ideas generated by the morning’s discussion, share your experiences from your different minor sessions, work on your action plans and brainstorm questions for the panel sessions.

Ideas Factories: During Q&A discuss with your table, questions for the keynote presenter and write them down on the cards provided. Cards will then be collected by conference staff and selected for the presenter to answer.

During meal breaks, check the signage around the venue to join a brainstorming or problem solving session on a topic of interest.

Audience Led sessions:

5-by-5: Have an interesting lesson or story to share? Prepare a quick 5 minute talk with 5 accompanying PowerPoint slides to present to your peers. Think of this like a mini-Pecha Kucha! Submissions are due on Friday 18th August 2017, and will be voted on by delegates prior to the conference.

Improvised Panel: Join an improvised panel session with your colleagues. A topic and three corresponding questions will be drawn from a hat (or Pre-selected by vote), three volunteers will then act as the panel, providing a quick introduction of themselves and their roles and experience before answering the questions.


  • Gain valuable insights from leaders and peers in the sector who have successfully carried out transformational change, big and small.
  • Opportunities to discuss key issues affecting your institution and the sector as a whole.
  • Bring back ideas on how to establish a service improvement initiative in your institution or extract more value from a current one.
  • Learn how to think outside the square, create focus on people and culture and translate these into results for your institution.
  • Enhance your institution’s chances of future success through an increase in service quality.
  • Opportunities to network with peers and participate in interactive group sessions that will capture new thinking and better practices.


Senior university executives and managers or directors of business units, particularly those with responsibilities for business and process improvement, change management, administration, planning and service delivery. Below are examples of their position titles.

  • Deputy or Pro Vice-Chancellor
  • Registrar or Deputy
  • Vice-Principal or Deputy
  • Chief Operating Officer
  • Chief Finance Officer
  • Chief Information Officer
  • Project Director or Manager
  • Director or Manager of Business Improvement
  • Director or Manager of Change or Transformation
  • Director or Manager of Administration
  • Director or Manager of Planning
  • Director or Manager of Services (e.g. Student Services, Research, HR, Finance and IT)


This conference is held by the LH Martin Institute and led by a steering committee made up of leaders and senior managers in Australian universities who have gone through or spearheaded the implementation of change and service improvements in their own institutions.

The steering committee members are:

  • Dr Stephen Weller, Chief Operating Officer, Australian Catholic University and Past President, Association for Tertiary Education Management. Read Stephen's blog article on the pursuit of service excellence.
  • Ms Janet Beard, Senior Honorary, Fellow LH Martin Institute, University of Melbourne
  • Prof Leo Goedegebuure, Director, LH Martin Institute
  • Ms Lakshmi West, Director, Service Improvement Group, Australian National University
  • Mr Steve Paris, Executive Director, Students, RMIT Vietnam
  • Mrs Suzanne Crew, Head Academic Quality and Analytics, University of New England


Read through this blog by Mark Robinson, Director of Lean, St Andrews, Scotland, for a detailed account of the 2016 conference

‘Excellent and high quality speakers and a good sense of collegiality amongst conference attendees” – 2016 Participant

“Thought Provoking and interesting – thanks for a great conference” - 2016 Participant


Conference opens (registrations): 8:30am, Thursday, 19th October 2017
Conference closes: 4pm, Friday 20th October 2017
Dinner: evening of Thursday, 19th October 2017

Note: The start and closing times are indicative only and subject to change; please see the full conference program for details.

Conference venue: Pier One, Sydney Harbour
Dinner venue: Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney


Conference + dinner: $1800 (excl GST)
Conference only: $1500 (excl GST)
Early Bird: $1350 (excl GST). Limited tickets available.

Groups of five or more from the same institution receive a further 10% discount on selected ticket types.


To register, please click on the relevant 'Register' button on this page.

Early bird registration closes on 12th June 2017, unless sold out prior.

Group registrations: please contact Melissa Hendicott at or call +61 3 9035 6429.


For other queries regarding this conference, please contact Melissa Hendicott or call +61 3 9035 6429.

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