The University of Canberra will relocate its four independent research institutes into the faculties to address international and postgraduate student shortfalls that threaten its finances.
According to a planning paper Vice Chancellor Deep Saini has released to staff, while the research institutes have produced “impressive results” in the rankings;
“we have not enjoyed a translation of the benefits of improved reputation into a parallel increase and retention of international and postgraduate student load, despite increased support for student recruitment, marketing and administration. The reduction in student load against target has resulted in major revenue shortfall over the last strategic plan period, which has been imposing serious constraints for some years on the university’s ability to adequately fund its teaching, research, infrastructure and other critical needs. Left uncorrected, this situation has the potential to escalate into a financial crisis.”
The now independent research centres focus on: health research, governance and policy analysis, applied ecology and sport and exercise. The university’s leadership expects the move to; “ensure that our best researchers also participate equitably (not necessarily equally) in teaching, thus helping raise the teaching standards and reputation.”
“This should set in motion a ‘virtuous cycle’ where enhanced opportunities to learn from leading scholars would attract a greater number of higher-quality students, leading to much-needed increase in student-load and revenue, in turn enhancing our ability to better fund all our mission-critical activities (and) leverage the co-location of our best scholars to develop high-quality, market-oriented postgraduate courses to reverse the decline in enrolment in such programs.”
There is little outright opposition to this strategy at UniCanberra, although the idea that now research-only staff picking up some teaching will be enough to reach enrolment targets strikes some as optimistic.