So, getting towards the end of February and time for another blog update.
Welcome to New Students
This week we have ‘O’ week and get to welcome a new crop of students to the University. I met the new students in residences at a welcome ceremony on Saturday. One particularly nice aspect was to meet a pair of our alumni who are Mitchell College graduates and married after meeting here. Their daughter is now starting to study with us so we hope it continues on through the generations.
Federal Reform Process
I thought I’d start with where the Government’s higher education reform proposals are up to. It is a little hard to tell but, despite Minister Pyne’s dedication, it looks pretty unlikely that the reform package will get through in anything like its current form. I’m basing this on what I can tell coming out of Canberra and the public statements of cross-benchers. Many people will heave a sigh of relief about this, but I seriously doubt that it means we will simply continue with the status quo. The Minister has indicated that funding for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme and Future Fellows is in doubt and it is not clear whether the government has a Plan B. It is also not clear what policies the Labor party is intending to advance. I hope that we will get some clarity about this in the not too distant future so that we can plan with some certainty and provide advice to students.
Service Improvement Project
We have been looking at ways of finding efficiency within our operations and this has been split into two streams. One of these is looking at how we organise administrative support across the Faculties and the Divisions. In this, we really need structures which allow us to concentrate on improving our service to students and academics. This work will continue through the year. The second stream looked at a number of services which other universities have outsourced and has tested whether external providers could deliver them more cost-effectively. Staff were advised on Friday about the outcomes of this. I am pleased that, for the most part, we are delivering services at a cost that matches or betters external providers. I also want to thank staff who identified additional efficiencies through the process that will provide significant savings, all of which help to balance the budget and reinvest in academic outcomes.
As mentioned in the last post, we are finalising the sub-plans in the 2015-16 Strategy document. Members of the Senior Executive are working to ensure that we understand all the cross-linkages between the plans. These documents will be the structure in which our activities are conducted, and budget is allocated over the next two years. These are the critical priorities we need to attend to if we are to be successful. Once the plans are completed, we will move on to look at critical measures associated with the plans so we can monitor our success.
Wellness and Wellbeing Expo
Coming up over the next month or so is the Charles Sturt University Wellness and Wellbeing Expo. The health of staff and students is really important to us and there is lots of information and stalls to help people think about how to pursue a healthy lifestyle. I attended the Bathurst expo last year and met a range of really interesting people – I would encourage everyone to go along.