Friends and colleagues, how are you all? I hope you are ok.
I started this year thinking my focus would be ‘2020: Perfect Vision’!
How wrong was I? It turned out to be the craziest year ever, where no eyewear prescription would ever have given anyone the correct vision of what was to happen during the year.
The Higher Education Sector in 2020
Many of you may have revisited movies such as ‘Contagion’ and ‘Outbreak’ to consider what might happen if COVID-19 really went rampant. In the US and some other parts of the world, it is still quite a frightening and devastating situation. Each of the Australian states have controlled the virus providing us with some semblance of ‘normality’. With several vaccines imminent, we hope that our international students can once again study on campus across Australia and New Zealand.
The resulting changes to everything in the sector have seen some incredible lows with significant restructuring, loss of jobs, income uncertainty and recalibration of significantly reduced budgets. People tell me they have been trying to maintain morale and enthusiasm while they lose their friends and colleagues around them. Everything we have known and loved has been tipped upside down. You all need to be commended for your great work during such difficult times.
One small benefit, as a result of the voluntary redundancies, has been that many people have decided to realign their careers with new adventures or retirement plans. We’ve added more people to our DVE Connect Register of Experts this year, which provides any organisation with a wealth of expertise to work with DVE on your projects.
Many of you have asked me, ‘How is DVE doing?’
We have travelled through this year carefully and successfully, thanks to the leadership of CEO, Jo Schneider and our Head of Consulting, Ian Thomson, as well as the support of our wonderful DVE Team.
I felt for Ian as he commenced with DVE in January, and within six weeks, we were all working from home! It was a tough start to a new job.
DVE has worked flexibly and virtually for many years, so working from home was not too much of a change for us. We put in place additional strategies to stay better connected during this time, which was beneficial to our already existing virtual teams working in other states and countries.
We continued to provide services to our ongoing clients – Thank You! Where there were (and still are) urgent and important activities or projects to be completed we have been adaptive and agile, working our fees ‘with a sharp pencil’.
DVE during 2020
Our projects during the year have included improving processes, roles and systems around student recruitment and admission, credit management, curriculum management, Science and Engineering technical services, TEQSA compliance and HDR process improvement, to name a few.
We were excited to contribute to a new project with UniSA to build their first short course in Aged Care ready for online teaching within a very short 4-week period after the Minister’s announcement in July 2020. As UniSA is both Jo and my Alma Mater we felt particularly proud to support this wonderful initiative, working with one of our special clients, Prof Esther May, academics and the UniSAOnline team.
We also engaged in some professional development work with teams, including one-on-one mentoring and ‘Eliminating the 8 Wastes in Higher Education’ Lean thinking workshops. We held a Credit Management webinar addressing TEQSA requirements and a VC webinar ‘Universities – 2021 and beyond’ with Prof Pascale Quester, VC Swinburne University and Professor David Lloyd, VC UniSA.
One of our highlights was the recent birth of our first DVE baby ever! Project Manager, Ann Nguyen and her husband Joon welcomed Alexander Wong, weighing in at 3.75 kg (8.4lb in the old language!). Mother and baby are both doing very well. Joon is too!
2021 – The ‘New Norm’
In speaking to many people during the past six weeks, I feel there is a sense of optimism and renewal for 2021. Many of you are planning new ways of working in 2021, with reduced staff, smaller teams and more focused effort to find greater efficiencies. With restructures being finalised and budgets set, there is a need to scope and plan the work for next year, albeit it very differently from ever before.
By operating leaner, less resource intensive and with more careful attention to costs, universities will be driving changes during 2021 to be better prepared for a new world. I read this article (ignore the US context) which makes two key points ‘ stay focused and simplify’. If we can focus on improvement and simplification during 2021, we should all be able to achieve some positive outcomes.
DVE wants to be a part of this, and we are holding a series of webinars and workshops, following on from our successful events in 2020. Credit management webinars and system demonstrations will now be followed with curriculum management demonstrations. Our first VC webinar will be followed in the New Year with a second VC webinar. The ‘Lean 8 Wastes in Higher Education’ workshops will continue, as well as other training and professional development opportunities in 2021.
We are also planning further improvement solutions in recruitment and admissions, research management, credit, curriculum and information management. We never stop thinking about ways we can help you solve your problems.
I have decided my slogan for 2021 is ‘Be adaptable. Be strong. Enjoy what you do.’
Please contact me if you have any problem areas that require urgent attention this year, or if you are planning any programs of work for next year, DVE is here to help you.
I wish you all a wonderful end of the year, holiday season and New Year!
P.S. Remember to connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter @Di1358