Q3 2021: Welcome back to Di’s Coffee Corner!

Posted: 06/08/2021

This year has been quite different from the previous year, with quarters one and two being extremely busy, a welcomed change after a rather strange 2020 with the pandemic wreaking havoc through the sector.

Though I must admit with stay-at-home orders impacting South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland within the last few weeks due to the Delta variant, it did feel somewhat like déjà vu. I feel for our NSW, Vic and now SE Qld colleagues facing further restrictions.

Let’s look at what has been happening in the sector and the opportunities available this next quarter and beyond.

Sector Happenings

It was great to see our Australian Universities rise once again in the QS World University Rankings 2022. A big congratulations to the following universities:

  • The Australia National University (ANU) climbed to 27th place from 31st last year.
  • The University of Melbourne, The University of Sydney, The University of New South Wales (UNSW) and The University of Queensland (UQ) all ranked within the Top 50 Universities.
  • Monash University and The University of Western Australia (UWA)both ranked within the Top 100 Universities.

I would also like to congratulate the following Higher Education providers (HEPs) who successfully registered under the new TEQSA Higher Education Framework (Threshold Standards 2021).

  • Avondale University College was successfully registered as an Australian University.
  • The National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Moore Theological College and the Australian Film Television and Radio School were registered as University Colleges.

But it isn’t just HEPs that we need to celebrate. Over the last couple of months, there have been several people move into new positions. Congratulations to the following, and to those we may have missed:

  • Prof Alec Cameron has been announced as RMIT’s incoming Vice-Chancellor and President and will assume his role in early 2022.
  • Prof Sharon Pickering was announced as Monash University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) and Senior Vice-President.
  • Prof Flavio Macau has been announced as Associate Dean Teaching and Learning for the School of Business and Law at Edith Cowan University (ECU).
  • Prof Attila Brungs has been appointed as President and Vice-Chancellor for UNSW from January 2022.
  • Kirsty Silk has been appointed as Senior Manager, Executive Education at the UQ Business School at the University of Queensland (UQ).
  • Prof Jennes “Jay” Walker has been appointed as the new Associate Vice-Chancellor for Charles Darwin University (CDU) in Alice Springs.
  • Assoc Prof Deb Clarke at Charles Stuart University (CSU) was elected as Vice President of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia.

Prof Todd Walker, a great friend of DVE, became VC of the University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland late last year. Recently he and his wife packed their bags and left Australia to commence their Scottish journey, continuing on from Scott’s virtual work since his appointment. The Chancellor of this recently established University is Princess Anne, Princess Royal KG, KT, GCVO, GCStJ, QSO, CD.

Universities Australia Conference (UA)

In June, I travelled for the first time since February 2020, attending the Universities Australia conference in Canberra. Although there were fewer attendees than normal, and sadly our Victorian colleagues could not attend at the last moment, it was a great conference. You can read my highlights here.

Sector Opportunities

There is no doubt in my mind that COVID created a significant new opportunity in the sector – the ability to work on any project or activity from anywhere. We can work remotely on almost any if not all, activities now. Virtual employment has become the new norm for us all.

One of the key outcomes of last year’s extensive sector wide redundancies is the impact on business processes. This year, much of our work has included reviewing and improving processes, notably around enquiry management, admissions and credit. This was such a hot topic that we held a webinar focused on Credit and included ways to improve credit management and a university case study that highlighted significant Credit improvements. Other free webinars are upcoming, be sure to follow me on LinkedIn for further details.

DVE Happenings

Last quarter we added Swinburne University as a DVE client. Thank you, VC Prof Pascale Quester. We have now worked with over 75% of Australian universities as well as a growing number of HEPs.

We are also growing our DVE team to add additional compliance, strategic planning, business analysis and, systems experts to our core team. This, combined with our already strong education-focussed team, plus our DVE Connect Register of Experts, means that we have a deep resource available to support you for any problems you are trying to solve.

Our ‘Eliminating the 8 Wastes in Higher Education’ Lean workshops are still popular and can now be held virtually for a reduced fee. Federation University was the latest HE provider to benefit, with 24 staff attending the training. The feedback from those attending was excellent.

The Gift of ’Niets Doen’ (doing nothing)

In the middle of the year, I took two weeks of annual leave. How glorious it is to have this midyear break! I really appreciate this time every year, and I highly recommend it. It’s a great way to come back refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the year to avoid the end of year fadeout.

In week two of my leave, we had an unexpected lockdown here in South Australia. After a busy first week doing all of the things I hadn’t had time for, going into lockdown was somewhat of a relief. Staying at home in front of the fire, reading a book, sorting old photos, watching TV was truly relaxing. I asked myself, ‘why does it take a lockdown for me to do nothing?’

It impacted me so profoundly that I am now planning one day a month for ‘nothingness’, and I follow the suggestions from a great little book, ‘The Art of Doing Nothing’ based on the Dutch philosophy of ‘niets doen’ (doing nothing).

Before I close, I wanted to leave you with a parting thought or perhaps it’s more of a challenge. It’s important to feel good about doing nothing and to allow yourself this time. With so much disruptive change and stress over the last year, this small act for yourself is great for your mental health and great for your heart and soul too.

It will be a busy second half of the year here at DVE, and now I’m well prepared.