Q3 2020: Welcome Back to Di’s Coffee Corner!

Posted: 09/10/2020

Since last quarter a great deal has occurred in our sector. We each read the latest news either in the public media, Campus Morning Mail or elsewhere and sigh heavily as more voluntary redundancies are announced, more organisational restructures are implemented, and more staff upheavals are planned. To say it is a volatile and challenging time for most universities right now is an understatement.

Several are weathering the storm well and have indicated small surpluses for this year due to an increase in domestic enrolments, as well as some international enrolments with students willing to study virtually. There is a small light shining for some, although forward projections indicate that the next several years will be extremely difficult for the majority of universities. The reliance on international student enrolments, particularly to support research activity, has become a significant risk for the sector globally. Alternative income-generating activities will be created, and governments will need to reconsider funding in light of the public good.

The situation leads to many issues downstream, which I’m sure you’re aware. The loss of colleagues and friends, camaraderie and teamwork that has been established over the years is being lost. The loss of people in crucial roles, leaving vacant positions is resulting in some staff not knowing what their new roles are in alignment with those vacancies.

During the past two months, our team has facilitated many workshops with teams from several universities. They have told us of their concern around filling the gaps left by those who are moving to newer jobs or early retirement. All of the teams have shown remarkable resilience, still committed to servicing their students and staff, and still trying to solve problems, reduce bottlenecks and increase efficiencies. I commend you all for continuing with such great effort and goodwill.

Credit Management

We held our first Credit Management webinar in September. Dr Judy Szekeres, a DVE Subject Matter Expert (SME) listed on the TEQSA Register of Experts, spoke about the TEQSA Standards and the importance of universities meeting these in light of the Admissions Transparency requirements.

Gavin McLean from La Trobe University spoke about the great work they have done improving the credit function at La Trobe. RPL was also discussed, along with the difficulty of aligning this to the previous study or work experience.

DVE is working with a technology partner to build a credit management system, and we are providing demonstrations of this to several universities to determine if this product will solve the critical credit problems. Feedback from three universities indicates it will be an excellent system for the sector. If you would like to know more about this system or have a no-obligation demonstration, please call me on 0412 41777 or email me on dianne.vaneck@dvesolutions.com.au.

DVE Lean 8 Wastes workshops

The commitment from people to keep managing these processes, particularly when there are so many wastes involved, has led to more enquiries about our DVE 8 Wastes workshops.

There are many frustrations about the inability to make change, and these Lean Thinking workshops provide a realistic framework for starting or continuing a continuous improvement program. I’ve also been facilitating several Business Process Improvement activities during the past two months.

It’s great to see university-wide teams come together to improve a process by consensus. We can run any workshop virtually with great outcomes, so contact me if you would like to discuss these further.

Organisational Restructures

Many universities are restructuring from the top down (not our advised model) without doing consultation around where the processes align between areas and where points of handover need to occur.

This makes it quite difficult for teams to adjust to those restructures and for the university to be assured it is meeting its quality assurance requirements, has processes known and mapped and staff roles and responsibilities clearly known and described. This work needs to occur before a restructure, but due to the urgency of saving money, the reverse is happening.

Universities are placing themselves at risk to some degree, as their processes and systems may not be changed, and people are really unclear about their roles in the new structure.

We are in uncharted waters with further upheaval that will need more resilience from people, but also training, development and support. This is essential for a sustainable future.

Professional Development

We have Professional Development opportunities available and in liaison with ATEM will be promoting these to universities, TAFEs, HEPs and other institutions in October. Programs such as our 8 Wastes Lean Thinking workshops, Project Management, Business Process Improvement, Leadership and Career Development. Stay tuned for news coming soon.

Sector Happenings

As always, let’s not lose sight of the good news occurring in our sector. Here are some of the highlights. A big congratulations go to:

  • Professor Katrina Falkner on her appointment as Executive Dean of the University of Adelaide’s Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences
  • Professor Erica Wilson on her appointment as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic Innovation) at Southern Cross University
  • Associate Professor Thomas Roche on his appointment as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic Quality) for Southern Cross University
  • Rowan Courtney-O’Connor on his appointment as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the International College of Management Sydney (ICMS), previously Chief Operating Officer of ICMS, Aspire Institute, International Sport College Australia (ISCA) and Aspire English
  • Marnie Hughes-Warrington, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Enterprise at University of South Australia for being named one of the 25 Top Influential Historians 2010-2020 by Academic Influence
  • Alice Di Pasquale, Executive Director, Faculty Services at Deakin University on her 25th work anniversary
  • Karla Gotting, General Manager at UniSA on celebrating her 10th anniversary

We wish you all the best throughout the next quarter.

Kind regards,


P.S. Remember to connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter @Di1358