Welcome to Di’s Coffee Corner!

Posted: 11/04/2019

With over two decades in the Australian Higher Education sector, I’ve had the opportunity to work with over 30 of Australian universities and witness firsthand what has been happening across this sector.

I have forged connections and working relationships with many colleagues and customers and I’ve seen how most of you struggle with limited resources, external pressures from government and technology innovation, while always trying to deliver an extraordinary experience to your students.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to start ‘Di’s Coffee Corner’, which will be small section in our DVE newsletter with some general chat, a bit of news about the sector as well as my observations on best practice and my opinion on current pain points.

Sector Happenings

Since 2008 we have worked with many Higher Education clients on a regular basis and we always appreciate it when a client contacts us to commence another project.

Over the last six months we have seen a great deal of movement of key people to new positions. We would like to congratulate several of these including:

  • Prof Tracey Taylor who has moved from the role of Deputy Dean, UTS Business School to Murdoch University, as the Dean of the Business School.
  • Laura-Ann Bull has commenced at James Cook University in the role of Deputy Vice Chancellor Students, moving from UniSA where she was the Pro Vice Chancellor Student Engagement and Equity for 4.5 years.
  • Prof Helen McCutcheon, Head of School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Queensland, will be commencing as Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor, Faculty of Health Sciences at Curtin University in May.
  • Prof Mike Ford has been appointed the Assistant Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research): Performance at UTS. Mike was the Associate Dean Research in the Faculty of Science, UTS previously.

There is a great deal to celebrate in the Australian Higher Education sector at the moment with congratulations to:

  • The University of South Australia having ranked 22 in the world for overall University Impact in the inaugural Times Higher Education University Impact Ranking. The ranking measures how well universities perform against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The University of South Australia Business School for winning the Customer Service Organisation of the Year – Not-for-Profit category at the 2018 International Service Excellence Awards in Chicago! The Business School, led by Pro Vice Chancellor, Prof Marie Wilson is proud to provide exceptional service to their students, industry connections and community.
  • The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) having increased their Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) rankings. The ERA assessment shows 80% of QUT’s research is rated at an above world standard, up from 60 per cent in the previous assessment released in 2015.
  • La Trobe University after the Finance discipline has scored ERA 5 – “well above world standard” at this round of the ERA. From all 39 Australian Universities, 20 were evaluated, and there are only four institutions ranked “well above world standard” in “1502 Banking, Finance and Investment”.
  • The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) after a new national research assessment has shown that it is leading the country when it comes to research impact. In a nation-leading result, almost 80% of assessed UTS research has been rated as having a ‘high’ impact on the community, well above the sector average of 43%.
  • All of the Customer Service Champions at La Trobe University – 0ver 2060 recipients across La Trobe’s seven Australian campuses and four International partner locations have been recognised over the past two years for making a positive difference and being role models of the Customer Service Charter & Cultural Qualities.
  • The University of Canberra’s Admissions Team after being awarded the Perseverance Certificate in the 2019 Students, Partnership and International Staff Awards.

Sector Pain Points

Technical Services

The technical expertise you draw on, particularly in the Health, Science and Engineering faculties, needs to evolve with the technology, but without the necessary reviews and restructures of Technical Services, many faculties are lagging behind in their adaptation of technical knowledge and academics are not getting the high-quality assistance they need.

We are hearing many frustrations from faculties who are struggling to increase productivity and develop efficient technical services teams to manage workshops, labs and other academic support activities. The good news is that many of these frustrations can be resolved through our DVE Technical Services Reviews.

Student Services

Student Services is still an area in most universities that requires continuous improvement and significant system support (if you want to read more on this check out our blog on Common frustrations in Student Services and how to overcome them).

I recently facilitated a workshop with a team in Admissions, and they were understandably frustrated about many factors related to systems, role clarity, processes and structures. All university Admissions teams work extremely hard. There are no more down times for Admissions. All staff members in Admissions are passionate about getting the best outcome for students but have processes and systems that don’t always allow them to do this effectively or efficiently.

Reviewing admissions processes can often uncover complexities, which are easily fixed once all stakeholders reach agreement.

That’s it for now! It’s going to be a fantastic year for the Australian and New Zealand Higher Education sector (especially if Labor win the Australian Federal Election) and a lot of fun. I hope to see you in my travels! Call me any time for a no obligation chat.