Q2 2021: Welcome back to Di’s Coffee Corner!

Posted: 05/05/2021

Hello everyone! Well that first quarter of 2021 has just flown by and we are now well into the teaching year for all universities.

I have enjoyed catching up with many of you over the past few months. I am pleased to hear that there is a sense of growing optimism after the tough year we left behind. Despite significant job losses and restructures, everyone is working hard to deliver services and improve the student experience.

On LinkedIn, I am reading about many success stories, both individual and institutional. It is great to see people are still aspiring to do great things in the sector. Universities, HEPs and VET organisations are all finding that there is a new ‘norm’ and that readjusting processes, roles and structures is ongoing now, not just the exception.

Sector Happenings

Our year for DVE started with a ‘bang’. We are pleased that institutions are starting to think about their improvement activities and we have many new projects and initiatives in progress.

Some of the current suite of projects are focused on:

  • Improving and streamlining business processes in admissions, student services, Higher Degree by Research and Work Integrated Learning.
  • Addressing governance and compliance issues with particular emphasis on supporting and guiding TEQSA submissions. We have had some outstanding successes for our clients.
  • Reviewing, implementing and improving new technology systems including Curriculum Management, CRM and Credit Management.
  • Supporting change processes and bedding down new organisational structures to support new ways of working, as well as training teams in new ways of working.
  • Strategic planning with leaders and managers of leading universities.

There have been some exciting milestones for many universities including:

  • The University of Melbourne is among the Top 50 in the World University Rankings 2021.
  • The Australian National University, University of New South Wales, Monash University, University of Queensland and University of Sydney are all ranked in the Top 100 Universities.
  • The University of Canberra was named the best in the world at addressing inequality by The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings due to the University’s research on social inequalities, discrimination policies, and recruitment of staff and students from under-represented groups.
  • The prestigious, research-focused Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU 2020) ranked Mining and Mineral Engineering at the University of Adelaide as Number 7 in the World and Number 2 in Australia.

There have also been a few movements within the sector, and we would like to take this opportunity to congratulate some of our sector colleagues, including:

  • La Trobe Vice-Chancellor John Dewar who has been elected as the next Chair of Universities Australia.
  • Professor Scott Bowman as he formally commences as Charles Darwin University’s new Vice-Chancellor.
  • Emeritus Professor Hilary Winchester, who has taken up the role of University Secretary for CDU. Scott and Hilary were a formidable team at CQU for several years.
  • At DVE, we welcome Katrina Quinn as our new Director, Quality and Innovation. Katrina was a General Manager at UniSA in the Business School and has extensive experience in strategic planning, effective change management, excellence in customer service and quality improvement. Prior to her UniSA role, Katrina worked at the University of Newcastle.

Both Katrina and Ian Thomson, our Head of Consulting, were former DVE clients. They have a clear picture of DVE’s role in the sector and how we can continue to improve our service delivery model to ensure we provide the exact types and level of services that you need to achieve your goals.  This segues nicely into my main ‘hobby horse’ – continuous improvement.

Continuous Improvement as a Driver to Respond to Sector Challenges

At DVE we have high-quality expert teams who are delivering outstanding results for many clients nationwide. Our projects focus on eliminating wastes, developing Lean Thinking cultures and supporting all levels of staff to identify, address and support improvement projects and activities. Get your team started now with our Eliminating the 8 Wastes in Higher Education workshops.  Keep reading for some interesting case studies where we are solving real problems.

Minimising onerous approvals

We reviewed 35 Higher Degree by Research (HDR) forms, many with three or four approval steps creating extensive, complex work for many staff and long delays for approvals for HDR candidates. In consultation with key stakeholders, we removed 91 approvals resulting in shorter turnaround times for students and less workload for staff. We also supported the creation of online workflows for many of these forms, thereby further eliminating waste in the process.

Streamlining admissions process

In reviewing admissions processes in two universities, we have found improvements in process that will lead to faster processing of offers and credit assessment. This work,  together with improved content and timing of communications to students will lead to greater student satisfaction and in time, retention. We have provided advice to more effectively target the number of entry pathways and greatly streamline entry criteria, creating a less complex process for students. Several universities supported us in the benchmarking efforts for these projects. I want to thank you if you were a contributor university.

Improving team structure

In another project, we found that services to students were improved by bringing previously disjointed teams together to develop a tiered level of enquiry management with appropriate triage points. This also led to improved information management solutions, using managed SharePoint sites and newly created rules to improve the shared inbox.

These were all relatively simple, low-cost solutions to ongoing and frustrating problems. I’d love to help you too if there are weaknesses in these processes at your organisation. Please call me on 0412 417 774 for a free consultation today.

DVE Happenings

I thought I would add a few photos again. Here I am in my happy place – mowing the paddocks on our 20-acre small farm at Bugle Ranges, just outside of Mt Barker, South Australia. My assistant is Milo, my daughter Jo’s Fox Terrier cross. When I am on the property, I can forget almost everything and focus on a tidy paddock! I would love to hear about your ‘happy place’ too and hope you can spend time there when it gets busy at work.

DE with dog

In exciting news, Xuan Lam, DVE Project Manager, gave birth to her and husband Emlyn’s baby boy Harry Minh Lewis on 18 April 2021. He weighed in at 3.72kg, is 53.5cm tall and according to Xuan, is absolutely divine! We are very excited about this event as this is our second DVE baby in 6 months.

Xuans baby

Supporting the academic community

We like to support our universities in South Australia by taking in interns and work experience students. For many years we provided internship opportunities for students from the School of Management, UniSA who were studying Project Management. We have also welcomed interns from Carnegie Mellon, Torrens University and now the University of Adelaide. One of these interns was Jacqueline Williams, who has been with us for the last three months. We’re pleased to announce that she will be continuing with us. Well done, Jacquie!

As we are all too aware, last year the sector lost many experienced professional and academic staff. There were major upheavals in almost every university. This was a gain for DVE – and you! – as we were able to add more experts to DVE Connect. Search here to find the expertise you need and reach out so we can help you custom design a project team to meet your needs and find solutions for your problem areas.

I hope to see many of you at the Universities Australia conference in June. It was strange to be booking flights and conference places again after over a year of no travel. I look forward to catching up with friends and colleagues and hearing about your stories of resilience and strength during what must have been the most challenging year on record for the sector.

I hope you stay well and healthy and enjoy what you do!

Thank you for your ongoing support of DVE as we enter our 14th year of service.

Please contact me on 0412 417774 or email dianne.vaneck@dvesolutions.com.au for a catch up chat.


Kind regards,