SOUTHERN Cross University has announced major reforms aimed at future proofing the institution’s longevity.
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The reforms announced included redeveloping faculty profiles, changing from a four semester year and proposed staff cuts.
Vice Chancellor Professor Tyrone Carlin said, “This is, in part, a response to the really challenging and significant impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, including the loss of international students.
Unfortunately this also involves some job losses as the University adjusts to a series of external shocks.”
“But it is also the continuation of a process of deep reflection on the need to create a university that is genuinely distinctive with sustainable and impactful models for education, research and support services.”
“The proposed changes are also designed to take account of an additional set of forces that will be brought to bear on the university as a result of recently legislated changes to Commonwealth funding arrangements for education and research.”
These include legislated changes to course costs such as higher fees for humanities courses and university caps on funded places for domestic students.
Currently SCU caps are set at a 2017 level and with cap numbers changing imminently but unannounced as yet, universities have a tricky job ahead.
Ben Roche, SCU Vice President of Engagement, said, “We asked ourselves how can we meet the level of student demand without going too far over those caps in the new model of fee increase for courses.
“For example science is now being funded more which means the student contribution decreases.
“But the humanities is being funded less so student contribution has increased.”
All the reforms, he said, aim to ensure that next year is not as equally challenging or worse than this year in terms of its financial gap and over staffing.
“At the core of the reforms is the redevelopment of the course profiles which is moving away from a 4 semester year to a six by six calendar year. So six semesters of six week duration will be implemented from next year.
This is the current model for postgraduates and will become the norm.”
The reforms also propose a change to four academic faculties rather than six, to bring together expertise, reduce duplication and ensure teachers interact with as many students as possible.
The academic faculties will be Health, Science and Engineering, Education and Business, Law and Arts.
Mr Roche said the blueprint for change has been released as a total package to staff and the response has largely been positive.
“It has been a year of so much uncertainty and we have been upfront and clear since February when we understood the impact economically.
“Staff have felt anxious about the future and say at least we now know what the plans are.”
Implementation will be over two years with a formal consultation period till the 26th November and the bulk of the changes implemented by next year.
By Sandra MOON