It is almost the end of 2022 and what a massive year it’s been! There have been hundreds of job changes across the Higher Education sector, quite a few organisational restructures, new systems implemented and the impact of reduced student applications to almost all universities. I know it has been a difficult and tiring year for many of you, but you continue on with resilience and fortitude, so well done! Whenever I talk to people working in the sector, they retain their focus on the student experience and this is to be commended.
Once again many areas of Australia are contending with unprecedented rainfall and flood situations. Here in South Australia the Murray River is filled to the brim and many Riverland towns are flooding or have flooded by now. When disasters like this happens, it brings all other problems into perspective.
This last quarter has seen a number of final projects come in for 2022 and we’ve seen some excellent improvement initiatives across many universities. The focus has been largely on admissions and conversions, and we understand the need to be well organised in this space. It’s a competitive sector and yet at the three conferences I attended this year, attendees were sharing best practice examples and learning from each other. Sometimes I think we could learn from outside our sector also and that is something DVE explores to inform our work.
Back on Campus
My best work week for 2022 was last week. I travelled to NSW and visited staff at four universities. It was such a great experience and I walked around with a smile on my face all week. I hadn’t realised how much I missed that face-to-face contact and discussions over real coffees.
I met with colleagues from ACU, UTS, University of Newcastle, and University of New England. The campus visits connected me with the student ‘vibe’ again which is one of the main things I love about my job. I guess many of you are enjoying that back on campus experience now, too.
The ACU and UTS city campuses are always bustling. At UTS I had a chance to view and walk through their Building 1 which was completed in the last 3 years. It’s a magnificent building with a large variety of eateries in the ground floor where students can hang out. I met with a colleague from Human Resources with whom we started working 10 years ago. We had a great time reminiscing about the significant changes that have occurred during the past decade.
In Newcastle and Armidale, I had some time to walk through the towns and in Newcastle it was clear there was tremendous growth occurring. But the experience on that campus is always one of peace because of the surrounding bush land. There were very few students on this campus but there was still a great feeling walking from one side of the campus to the other along the Birabahn Cultural Trail.
In Armidale I visited the Boolimah campus as well as the University’s new city centre hub, NoVA, a co-working, and meeting space in the centre of town. That was a great example of the university, business community, and city centre working together to deliver a high value service to the community.
Understanding the Student Journey to Success Symposium
I attended virtually the inaugural symposium this year and there were many excellent presentations, focused largely on the service to students. There were some interesting research projects which informed discussions. I hope to attend this conference in person next year.
The Universities Australia conference is back in February in 2023 and I will be attending in person to meet with many of you over real coffees once again!
Recent DVE events with links to these resources include:
- ‘The Ten Top Tips for Admissions and Conversions’ online webinar in October with our Head of Consulting Ian Thomson. We prepared this as a result of our findings from seven recent admissions projects.
- Governance and Compliance webinar “Good Governance Minute Taking”
- Governance and Compliance webinar “Why Does Wellbeing and Safety Matter on Campus?”
I will close by sharing with you that I am really enjoying being a Dutch Oma! It is truly wonderful having this new little person in our lives. I am lucky to spend quite a bit of time with Tommy during the weekends. He is starting to recognise me and smile which is lovely.
That’s all for from me for this year in my ‘Coffee Corner’. I hope you all have the chance for some well-deserved rest and recreation during the break. I feel 2023 will be a big year as we know several big projects are starting in some universities, the University Accord and ARC Review findings will be released and there may be impacts from the 22/23 admissions cycle which means rethinking new ways of doing work.
Have a wonder Christmas and New Year break and see you in 2023. Thank you for your ongoing support.