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UniForum is an international benchmarking exercise that supports postsecondary institutions in achieving service excellence.

What is UniForum?

Led by NousCubane Consulting Group, the UniForum program began in Australia and now has more than 70 participating universities worldwide. Eleven Canadian institutions participate, including UBC, the University of Ottawa, and the University of Toronto.

Uniforum helps support service excellence at Dalhousie by:

  • Providing a detailed look at how effectively Dalhousie provides 70 different administrative services, measured by staff and faculty satisfaction with specific services as well as the resourcing required to deliver said services.
  • Enabling comparisons of our results, capacities, and delivery model against our national and global peers.
  • Facilitating learning from other universities who are doing this work particularly well and in a sustainable fashion.
  • Helping us consider how we might design effective approaches to administrative service improvement aligned with Dalhousie’s culture and core values.


UniForum will be an important part of a comprehensive dataset that supports Faculty and unit planning processes through Dalhousie’s Integrated Planning Framework.

The Provost & Vice-President Academic and Vice-President Finance & Administrative serve as executive sponsors of UniForum at Dalhousie, and its activities are overseen by the Provost Committee with the support of the Senior Director, UniForum.


In appreciating what UniForum offers Dalhousie, it is also important to understand what UniForum is not. 

  • It is not focused on job elimination or even necessarily cost reduction; in some cases, our results might illuminate areas where we need to invest more resources or staff time. While service efficiency should always be a goal, service effectiveness and satisfaction are just as important, as are the careers and career opportunities of our employees. 
  • UniForum isn’t the only appropriate measure of performance. Other variables also need to be considered when exploring how best to improve the services we offer our Dal community.

UniForum activities

Data that informs UniForum’s benchmarking program is collected in two ways: 

Activity/cost data collection (annual)

Dalhousie completes an “activity-coding” exercise to gather information on the allocation of staff time and supplier time. This process engages 300 people across the university who provide information on behalf of their team members. Dalhousie’s first activity/cost data collection was completed in June/July 2023.

Service Effectiveness Survey (biannual)

Academic and professional staff are invited to complete a survey rating and commenting on the experience of and effectiveness of using Dal’s administrative services. The survey takes place in two phases (fall and spring), each asking about different services. Dalhousie completed its first surveys in November 2022 and April 2023.

Latest updates

Dalhousie has finished its first full year as part of the UniForum program and is about to embark on its second round of data collection.

High-level initial results have been shared with Deans and administrative leads, and we are working to provide them with more in-depth data and analysis to support conversations for the next Integrated Planning cycle. 

The next round of activity/cost data collection begins in May 2024 and will continue over the summer. More information will be provided to leaders and those responsible for activity-coding in the coming weeks.

The next Service Effectiveness Survey will take place in November 2025.




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