Chakma sets out UWA change agenda

VC Amit Chakma points to problems that needs fixing, and why – “unless we address them, UWA will continue to lurch from one crisis to the next”

Professor Chakma warns UWA has an underlying structural deficit of $70m a year due policies including;

* the UWA model: (general undergrad degree plus professional practise masters) “has led to a situation where we were being out-competed by other universities with more straightforward offerings, even in our traditional strength areas. We lost a considerable share of the state’s post-secondary students – a situation that we are only now turning around”

* not enough internationals: “our institutional reluctance to admit international students in higher numbers. Over two decades, UWA failed to capitalise on opportunities to augment our research and infrastructure budgets with international student fees at a level commensurate with other Australian universities of our size”

* or investment: UWA has, “underinvested in core digital and physical infrastructure

* as well as the big one: “Our institutional decision-making processes have become moribund and the constituent parts of our university have become misaligned. Decision-making processes are unworkable, slow-moving, and detached from consequences and impact. Schools and professional service areas have become disconnected, and policy and processes are no longer fit for purpose, effective or efficient.

What’s next: Professor Chakma reports changes staff tell him they want include; “streamlining” administration, ditto decisions on academic programmes. And it would not be a restructure plan without, “eliminating layers which do not add value

The VC will take a proposal to Senate in October for “the first tranche of structural reform”.