No-brainer off: neuroscience stays at ANU

The university abandons its plan to exit neuroscience as part of a savings strategy

In March Dean of Health and Medicine, Russell Gruen proposed a comprehensive restructure of the college.

It was not received well. In particular, closing neuroscience teaching and research, said to lack scale to attract funding, was adamantly opposed, within and ex ANU.

And now the Eccles Institute of Neuroscience stays, a decision Professor Gruen tells staff which has the vice chancellor’s endorsement.

It will expand into the Eccles Institute of Neuroscience and Brain Sciences. Sir Edward Byrne neurologist and ex VC of Monash U and former principal of King’s College London  is charged with proposing a growth plan by year end.

The college has also accepted “wide-spread concern” about the proposed joining of the ANU Medical School and Research School of Psychology into a combined research school with population health and epidemiology. While there will now be a School of Medicine, Psychology and Health Leadership it will be separate to the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health. Research areas in John Curtin School of Medical Research are reorganised.

Education support functions will be “consolidated” and a college-wide professional services hub created.

Under the new structure five continuing academic positions (one vacant) and ten professional staff roles (five vacant) will go and 550 staff will be transferred into the new structure. One role to go is in Neuroscience.

“Unlike most change management processes, in this case it looks like they have listened to most of the feedback provided by the college and the community,” a Learned Reader observes.

As to dealing with the deficit, the new plan proposes, “creating a future-facing education powerhouse able to expand into new distinctive offerings”  and “consolidation of entities and support strictures to promote disciplinary and interdisciplinary capabilities, improve efficiencies enhance quality.”

The college’s original saving target for 2021-22 was $12m. ANU states it has already “made a significant portion of those savings” presumably from the net reduction of 33 positions announced in October.