Strategic insights

Strategic context

Drawing on relevant external sources of information to understand the factors affecting the environment in which Monash operates.

Program evaluation

Synthesizing data and stakeholder knowledge to maximise the benefit realisation of Monash programs and initiatives.

Scenario modelling

Using system dynamics modelling to understand the present and plan for the future.


Data and analysis can provide information about what has happened in the past but we are also keen to learn about what may happen in the future. While there are no structured data on future performance, there are inputs and scenarios that can be utilised to inform of potential trends that may be faced in the next decade and the responses we may have to these trends. This forecast facilitates investigation into the direct and indirect consequences of the decisions being made about various aspects of Monash's performance.

Monash University as an Eco-System

By considering Monash University as its own eco-system, InSight has developed a system dynamics model that is centred on the student admissions pipeline, staffing, and financial performance. A wide range of other teams within the University have supported the project by providing data and analysis.

SD Model

The model reflects the deterministic nature of university operations such as the student admissions pipeline contributing to the total number of students, and captures feedback loops such as increasing enrolment numbers and the need to recruit additional teaching staff.

Actual data between 2011 and 2017 were used to train and to validate the simulation model. The major forecast outputs include but are not limited to the number of students (domestic v international), staff FTEs by category, and financial positions. Model error rates are kept as low as possible (mostly below 1%) when compared with the training and validating data sets.

The resulting model is a deterministic forecasting model that simulates Monash University’s performance in the defined areas. This tool enables us to understand the impact of different internal and external scenarios on our performance and to investigate the effectiveness of our responses.

How to Interpret the Model

Based on a number of inputs, users can observe changes in the number of commencing students, the number of total enrolments, and the international student share ratio. The simulation can be easily adapted with additional information.

In addition, InSight has collaborated with the finance and risk teams to develop scenarios about what may affect student applications to Monash, yielding a range of possible outputs. These outputs enable us to simulate over one million scenarios, export results, and assign weights as probabilities for each scenario. Resulting predictions should not be viewed as accurate numbers, but rather as trends and ranges that would inform us about potential future scenarios.