Time for a Change: Vice-Chancellor’s Communiqué – Tuesday, 21 July 2020
On Wednesday 22 July I will present to UNE staff the ‘Time for Change’ programme. This is a forward looking programme of significant change across the whole institution. It has been designed to enable this regional university, Australia’s oldest, to continue as a leading provider of education of the very highest quality to all of our students.
As I have gone about designing this programme, the needs and aspirations of UNE students (past, present and those yet to join us) have been a vital part of my considerations.
In order to deliver for our students we need a stable, sustainable financial foundation to build our future growth and reputation on.
I also want your input in the broader transformation program we will implement to support our new strategic plan.
The ‘Time for Change’ programme received the University Council’s full approval last Friday. It maps out the work required to protect the University from the financial burdens imposed by drought, bushfires and COVID-19 as well as some longer-term structural issues which must be resolved now.
At present UNE income does not cover all of our costs and has not done so for some time. The burden of diminished revenue across the last six months alongside increased costs requires a more substantial response than just cost savings and efficiencies. UNE needs to invest now in designing the academy and campus of the future, bringing new systems into action to support our operations and create opportunities for growth. To do so, we need to reduce our institutional costs, restructure our workforce and progress with new business development options.
The ongoing support and involvement of our student community will help the University now and ensure that our current and future students receive the most suitable and innovation education solution that we can provide.
Going forward UNE needs to develop a new institutional model that can better respond to the opportunities being identified in the Napthine Review, the Coaldrake Review and the proposed reforms to the Higher Education Funding Model which are driving government decision making around educational policy.
The key elements of the ‘Time for Change’ programme include:
- A reduction in the number of senior executive roles to five ‘Executive Principal’ portfolios
- A workforce redesign and organisational restructure to secure:
- A focus on the student experience, with all aspects of UNE student engagement being brought together under one executive pillar to ensure quality of provision and support from enrolment to graduation, and including our support for UNE Alumni to honour our commitment to lifelong learning;
- The aggregation of all academic activity across the institution, to underpin our commitment to excellence and innovation. The new Education Futures portfolio will combine the three Faculties with internal functions around knowledge creation, pedagogy and technology as a dynamic enabler for Education.
- The creation of a team-based Integrated Services Model to support all University functions; and
- The progressive upgrade of digital/online infrastructure and education provision to secure our position as an Australian leader in the field of online education in this new rapidly changing world.
Our target is a saving of some $20M per annum of costs to secure UNE’s ongoing financial sustainability and to release funds for investment in new faculty, in research and in critical infrastructure.
Organisational redesign is also vital to ensure UNE can deliver the outcomes desired of the emerging UNE 2021+ Strategic Plan – including student success, digital transformation, knowledge partnerships, the future campus and the significance of place-based engagement.
We all recognise that for the UNE community 2020 has been challenging with periods of significant disruption and we are still responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. I commend our staff, students and alumni for their amazing resilience and commitment over many months; I ask now that you, our students continue to support us through this time.
Rest assured, as we travel through this change program, one firm aim is to ensure minimal to no disruption to the delivery of courses and our student experience.
As the architect of the ‘Time for Change’ programme, I believe it is important that I present the plan to the community. I also ask that you engage in the UNE 2021+ Strategic Plan development process which allows for your opinions, thoughts and questions to be included in our deliberations. Have a say in our future.
Professor Brigid Heywood
Vice-Chancellor & CEO
University of New England