Charles Darwin University
Strategic Plan


Acknowledgement of Country and recognition of Australian First Nations traditional owners and cultures

Charles Darwin University acknowledges and respects the many Australian First Nations traditional custodians of the lands upon which our campuses and centres are located.

We acknowledge and pay our respect to the Larrakia who are the traditional custodians of the lands upon which our Darwin Casuarina, Waterfront and Palmerston campuses are located.

We acknowledge and pay our respect to the Arrernte who are the traditional custodians of the lands upon which our Alice Springs campus is located.

We acknowledge and pay our respect to the Jawoyn, Wardaman and Dagomon who are the traditional custodians of the lands upon which our Katherine campuses are located.

We acknowledge and pay our respect to the Gadigal who are the traditional custodians of the lands upon which our Sydney campus is located.

We acknowledge and pay our respect to the Turrbal and Yuggera who are the traditional custodians of the lands upon which our Brisbane centre is located.

We acknowledge and pay our respect to the Woiworung who are the traditional custodians of the lands upon which our Melbourne centre is located.

We acknowledge and pay our respect to the Kaurna who are the traditional custodians of the lands upon which our Adelaide centre is located.

We acknowledge and pay our respect to the Whadjuk who are the traditional custodians of the lands upon which our Perth centre is located.

We acknowledge and pay our respect to the Kundjey’mi who are the traditional custodians of the lands upon which our Jabiru centre is located.

We acknowledge and pay our respect to the Warumungu who are the traditional custodians of the lands upon which our Tennant Creek centre is located.

We also acknowledge and pay our respect to the Kungarakan (Batchelor and Adelaide River), the Yolngu (northeast Arnhem Land) and the Tiwi (Tiwi Islands).

We acknowledge Australian First Nations peoples’ long tradition of sustaining their communities and environments over thousands of years. They are the first educators and first innovators.
They are the holders of knowledge that makes an important contribution to the improvement of our local, national and global communities.
We extend our respect to Elders - past, present and emerging - and to all First Nations people.


Charles Darwin University (CDU) is a unique institution.

With our home and our heart in the Northern Territory, we embrace the inclusive, resilient and courageous spirit of the NT in our campuses and delivery sites that span a diverse footprint from the capital cities of Darwin, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney; to the regional hubs of Alice Springs, Palmerston and Katherine; our remote locations in Jabiru, Tennant Creek and Yulara; and on Country - in community, with community.

No other Australian university serves such a large area of the continent, in such remote locations and with such a small population to sustain it. We are Australia’s first dual-sector university and the only university based in the Northern Territory, a fact of which we are immensely proud.

Our multi-campus, dual-sector status, virtual and online expertise, course profile, research activities, delivery methods, and operations are a consequence of our commitment to the regions in which we operate. The Northern Territory spans approximately one sixth of Australia’s landmass and yet is home to just one per cent of the population, of whom 30% are First Nations peoples.

We embrace the vitality and resilience of the Northern Territory, which is the focus of the nation’s most ambitious plans for future development - to unlock the vast potential of Northern Australia.

Due to our location, we are in an enviable position to contribute to the future prosperity of Northern Australia, and our neighbours in the Asia Pacific, through our innovative and impactful training, education and research.

We are a national provider with expertise in online and flexible delivery. Our reach in delivering high quality, relevant and life-changing training, education and research extends throughout Australia and beyond.

We are a deeply connected university, working in partnership and collaboration with First Nations peoples, our communities and industries, government and alumni to address the needs of the Northern Territory and regional, rural and remote people nationally and globally.

We are proud of our history and our place in the world and look forward to a bright future.

INTRODUCTION - from Professor Scott Bowman AO,
Vice-Chancellor and President

I am incredibly proud to be given the privilege to lead Charles Darwin University as its Vice-Chancellor and President. Since arriving in the Northern Territory in April 2021, I have come to realise that CDU truly is a great university.

We have fantastic opportunities ahead to secure a future that will lead us to be Australia’s most connected university through making courageous decisions and delivering training, education and research that matters to the people of the Northern Territory, Australia and beyond.

We can only be successful through our connections with all of our partners – whether they be our students, our alumni, our communities, businesses, industry, First Nations peoples, government and donors – working together to harness our collective knowledge and expertise. Together we develop innovative solutions to ensure a great future for all of the communities we serve.

The CDU Strategic Plan is your Plan, and it has been developed with input, advice and guidance from the many people who make up the CDU community.

Our Strategic Plan will take us forward for the next five years and guide us in achieving our aspirations. We have faced many challenges in the past, but none so wide-ranging or unforeseen as the current global pandemic. We will feel the effect of COVID-19 on our health and wellbeing and our economic and financial future for many years to come. This Strategic Plan will help us to address the impacts of the pandemic on our communities and guide us in supporting a post-pandemic recovery.

I am particularly proud of the values that you have agreed to in developing this Plan. CDU will be a values-led organisation, and our values of courage, kindness, openness, innovation and leadership will guide us every day as we set our path to realise our new five year vision.

I can’t wait to get started and know that together we can be the most connected university in Australia.

PREAMBLE - from the Hon Paul Henderson AO, Chancellor

At Charles Darwin University, we have a passion and a vision to use our expertise, skills and knowledge to help shape a brighter future, starting in the Northern Territory. We are a dual-sector university committed to our core business of vocational skills and training, higher education teaching and learning, research and engagement. We are student-centered, industry-relevant and deeply connected to our communities and our partners.

As an anchor institution we play an important role in the Northern Territory’s education system and work in partnership with our schools and other vocational education and training providers to deliver robust and high-quality training and education to serve the needs of all Territorians. We are committed to making important contributions to the social, economic and environmental sustainability of the NT and Northern Australia and to export our expertise nationally and globally.

This Strategic Plan has been designed to focus our activities in a way that will help us to be outcomes focussed and impact driven. We are building on CDU’s previous Connect Discover Grow Strategic Plan and also acknowledge and understand the complex external environment in which we operate.

The Australian tertiary education landscape has been changed forever in recent times, not least of which due to the global pandemic which saw our borders closed to our valued international students. Australian universities, and our society in general, have always been richer for the deep friendships, understandings and collaborations that grow and flourish when students from many countries contribute to and enhance our Australian student experience. We look forward to welcoming our international students back in the future and are committed to continuing to work with and support the students from many nations who chose to study at CDU. This Plan addresses the University’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and positions us for a post-pandemic world.

We know that positive change comes when we recruit students with diverse backgrounds, experiences and mindsets. We then help them to create a better version of themselves and the world around them. As a dual-sector university we deliver courses at all levels of the Australian Qualifications Framework – from Certificate I through to Doctoral Degrees – and we believe every student is important and all qualification levels are equally valuable. We will celebrate the success of a Certificate I student with the same enthusiasm and vigour as we do a PhD graduate. We will also capitalise on new qualifications that are emerging, such as microcredentials and stand-alone skillsets.

The Strategic Plan is purposefully a visionary document that sets out our values, enduring principles, goals and enablers. There is more detail in our Core Plans, Enabling Plans and related key performance measures to ensure that we are taking action, reporting back and being accountable in delivering on our vision.

This Plan is dynamic and action-oriented and will not sit on a shelf (or a website) gathering dust. It will guide the work of CDU every day and in every way. We will look to our values and our enduring principles to ensure we make decisions in the best interests of our students, our staff and our communities.

We have listened carefully to your feedback and we are now ready to deliver.


We will be Australia’s most connected university by being courageous and making a difference in the Northern Territory, Australia and beyond.

We will only achieve our vision through making connections and developing partnerships with First Nations peoples, industry bodies, research organisations, businesses, communities, government, other education institutions, training providers, philanthropists and alumni.

Our connections help us realise the mutual benefits of learning, undertaking research and working together to allow our communities to grow and prosper.

Being connected with purpose is the most important tool we have to allow our university to meet the tertiary education and research needs and expectations of the Northern Territory, Australia and beyond. Our worldwide connections and the contributions we make to the world will ensure that CDU provides the Northern Territory with access to world standard education and research capabilities in areas that matter to our communities.



We make courageous decisions to act in the best interests of our students, our people and our communities. We have the courage to try new things, to be innovative and to make a difference. We have the courage to learn from our mistakes and when we fail, to try again.


We have a generosity of spirit in all of our dealings and when tough decisions are required we act with kindness, empathy and compassion. In all things we act with respect, decency and integrity and strive to understand each other’s differences and points of view.


We communicate and listen openly and frankly in a way that is honest and respectful, recognising our limitations and embracing diverse perspectives. We share information with candour and empower our people with knowledge.


We develop, implement, pursue and embrace ideas, take action, are resourceful and find imaginative and enduring solutions that are innovative and impactful. As a learning organisation, we value the collective effort and embrace new knowledge.


We are leaders in our chosen fields of expertise, creating positive influence and making a lasting impact. We develop and enable leadership to flourish throughout our university and our communities. We value the knowledge of others: we are all leaders, and we are all followers.


These principles underpin all decisions and actions at CDU. They are core beliefs about what is most important to us.

Providing training, education and research that matters

We believe in the transformative power of training, education and research to change people’s lives for the better. We have a collective responsibility to make sure that our training, education and research is not only high quality and delivered by outstanding educators and researchers, but is accessible and meaningful. What we do matters to our communities.

Prioritising the needs of the Northern Territory

We believe in the people of the Northern Territory. As the only university for and of the Territory we are committed to ensuring that we put the needs of the Northern Territory first in our training, education and research. By striving to be world leaders in education and research areas that matter to the Northern Territory, we will ensure that our communities have access to the best education and research capabilities. By doing so our regions can continue to develop, grow and prosper.

Connecting and engaging with our stakeholders in meaningful partnerships

We believe in making deep and abiding connections and
developing mutually beneficial partnerships, a strength and capability born out of our sense of place in the Northern Territory. We are committed to making our university easy to do business with, fostering new ideas and innovative approaches. We are genuine in our commitment to connect to make a difference in Northern Australia, Australia and the world.

Ensuring our students are at the heart of our decisions

We believe in putting our students at the centre of all that we do. We will be welcoming, inclusive and responsive; collaborating with students to co-design an outstanding student experience. We will direct our efforts to ensure our students are connected and successful, graduating with the knowledge and skills to make meaningful contributions in their chosen careers and lives.

Honouring Australian First Nations knowledges and

We believe in recognising, embedding and celebrating the transformative leadership of First Nations people at CDU. We will work together to achieve the aspirations for the future prosperity of Australia’s First Nations peoples for the betterment of all Australians.

Fostering a culture of inclusion and belonging and
valuing our diversity

We believe in diversity as a strength and welcome differences in culture, race, religion, gender identity, ability and sexuality. We are proud of the diversity of the CDU community and we are working together to create a fair, safe and inclusive university where everyone can thrive. We speak out against discrimination and social exclusion in all forms.

Valuing and empowering our people to make a difference

We believe that our people are our best feature and our biggest asset. We will work collaboratively to ensure our people are valued, empowered and celebrated to make meaningful contributions in their work.

Focussing on quality and excellence to deliver outcomes with impact

We believe in ensuring all that we do is of high quality and meets the needs of our students, industries and communities to deliver impact. We will focus on excellence in our learning and teaching and research activities and ensure we set the bar high for our quality standards, processes and outcomes.

Committing to protecting, sustaining and improving our environment

We believe in pursuing, expanding and leading on climate solutions, including reducing our waste, becoming more energy efficient and developing environmentally innovative solutions through our operations, our teaching and our research.



We will support the delivery of our goals through the enablers of People, Processes, Partnerships, Place, Technology and Systems, and Finance and Investment.


Our success relies on the hard work, dedication and commitment of our people. We have an obligation to
attract, retain and develop our people to support their best endeavours to deliver outstanding service, training, education and research. Our people live by our values and believe in our enduring principles to make connections to improve the lives of our students and our communities.


Our operational processes will be customer-focussed, innovative, technology enabled, fit for purpose and efficient. With a commitment to continuous improvement, we will ensure our processes are simple, cost-effective and support delivery. We will be accountable and ensure approvals and delegations related to processes are at the appropriate level within the organisation.


Our partners will share our strong commitment to meeting the training, education and research needs of our communities, with a focus on developing and empowering people to make a difference. Our partners will align with our values and our enduring principles and we will be careful and strategic in who we engage and work with to ensure partnerships deliver mutually beneficial outcomes.


Our place in the Northern Territory is our priority, however our commitment extends to ensuring we expand access to training and education and undertake research which impacts beyond the Territory. We will leverage the power of our place to ensure our campuses, delivery sites, regional outreach activities and online delivery support our vision to connect to make a difference.


Our digital technology and systems supporting our core activities of training, education, research and operational performance will be customer-focussed, integrated, and fit for purpose to deliver improved experiences. Our people will be appropriately inducted and trained in the use of our systems to ensure we gain maximum benefit and impact.


Our commitment to ensuring the long term financial sustainability of the university will ensure we are making decisions and operating in ways that deliver efficiency and best value whilst also supporting the achievement
of our vision and goals. We will aim to return an annual surplus to invest in initiatives and projects of strategic importance.