Federation U means business

A restructure proposal is all about employment, just not jobs for everybody who now works there

The university predicts enrolments next year will be 30 per cent down on 2019 and it plans to respond by focusing on future employment demand for graduates and making the university more responsive to employers.

This involves changes to academic structures, “which are designed around historically inward-facing models of academia.”

To address this management proposes to consolidate its six schools into “three employment and start-up centres,” intended to “respond to employer and innovation demand.” Dean positions are gone, replaced by CEOs, ‘with a strong external focus”

The new academic organisations will also “align” with research centres “which successfully leverage industry collaboration and funding and adopt an agile cross-university model, driving innovation and engagement.”

And for staff who do not like it, the exits are open, with voluntary redundancies available for most continuing staff.*

“We understand that the overall changing environment may not align to where some of our people currently wish to be, which is perfectly understandable. Workplace skills are changing at a rapid pace as well as technology capabilities as we become a more flexible workplace,” the university states.

Overall the VRs appear intended to change culture as much as address any specific financial issue as “there is no specific target or number for the savings achieved.”

To all of which campus branch president of the National Tertiary Education Union, Mathew Abbott expresses scepticism, calling the proposed restructure, “a high-risk strategy that could do irreparable damage to education in the regions.”

“There is no evidence that a wholesale adoption of an industry sponsored approach has been rigorously market tested amongst employers, students, careers counsellors, and parents,” he says. “‘Business start up’ experimentation is old. It has been going on for two decades now and has not born fruit – Ballarat is not the technophile or Silicon Valley phenomenon that was once promised.

“It’s a high-risk strategy that could do irreparable damage to education in the regions.”

* Facilities staff are not eligible for VRs, due to an agreement with unions in place for another year and “high performing research staff” which includes junior people with potential, are also excluded. This programme appears separate to the cuts in arts previously proposed (CMM September 16)