Uni South Australia sets out for 2025

David Lloyd has plans for the University of South Australia and with a contract extension to 2025 he has the time to make them happen.  

What’s coming: David Lloyd is building new enterprises at the University of South Australia, with the new on-line course initiative set to expand and a transformative course model about to enter development.

It’s enough work to take the VC through the length of his contract, just extended to 2025, and more than ample to enact his idea of a university of enterprise, with academic programmes created and delivered  by staff across disciplines. “I want us to have a proper position of enterprise – people work for the university, not in the school f x or the department of y,” he says.

They are both ambitious, but anticipated initiatives. UniSA has long been a distance educator, recently via Open Universities Australia, and the idea of a academic programmes, taught by staff across the university, has been discussed for a couple of years. But now expanding on-line is underway and a senior staff conference next month will start discussing the new course model.

On-line expansion: The university’s increased on-line commitment is significant. UniSA offers three UG and two PG courses via Open Universities Australia, but launched last year 11 degree under its own banner in IT, business and health (CMM September 5 2017). A “growing suite of programmes tailored for mid-career changes,” the VC says.

While they are existing degrees, content is being rebuilt for digital delivery. “We are really determined to make it the best quality you can get in an on-line environment.” It sounds expensive and while Lloyd will not quote figures he does say “it’s not an insignificant amount – you don’t do this half-baked. We are really determined to make it the best quality you can get in an on-line environment.”

The university is looking to have 25 per cent of students studying online by 2025, growing overall enrolments from 32 000 now to 40 000. Australians ex SA already account for two-thirds of students, with international markets being targeted in the next 12 months.

But Lloyd rejects the suggestion that international on-line is an unavoidable alternative to a stagnant SA market. For a start, this year is the bottom of the state’s demographic curve and he is big on the state’s prospects, “all the universities are growing.”  Rather the appeal of on-line is, “there are no boundaries on what we deliver.”

Disciplines boundaries to go: Breaking boundaries is the foundation of the other plan to transform UniSA by 2025. The idea of creating cross-disciplinary academic programmes is not new to the university, in development for 18 months. As Professor Lloyd puts it, in the strategic plan; “academic programs will draw on expertise from across the institution for their delivery – the best input contributing to the best offerings through curriculum communities.”

But the change to come has been mistaken around the Adelaide traps as a cost-cut. Lloyd is adamant this is not so “it’s not about savings, it is about reorienting the way we do business.”

And now the university community is about to start working on ways to implement the academic-programme focused staff structure this will require, with courses crossing traditional discipline-based organisation boundaries. A reorganisation around programmes is on the agenda for the senior staff conference in a fortnight with an announcement in six months.


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