The Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) Kevin Jameson recently held a ‘Town Hall’ on the state of the extended DVCA portfolio.
At the end of the session, a Q&A forum was held. As promised by Sherman Young, here are the answers to some of the burning questions.
When will the “Nature and Size” discussion paper be released?
Expected to go through a green and white paper process in the first half of 2018. However, work is already taking place to support the framework – for example a digital L&T strategy.
How long will existing interim roles be in place?
The PVC (Students) role is already under recruitment in the form of an Executive Director, Student Experience & Registrar and we hope to have someone permanent early in 2018. The PVC (Programs and Pathways) will be advertised in the first quarter of 2018. There are some other interim roles in our Portfolio and these will be finalised when the Executive Director is appointed.
The rate of change in the university is occurring much faster than current resources can support. When will this be addressed?
We’re committed to doing change well. It’s in no one’s interest to try to do change without the proper support in place. An example is the Student System project. As we start to gear up, a lot of emphasis is being placed on ensuring we are resourced properly, and the right structures are in place.
What are the plans to support staff through changes for 2018?
Firstly, we do not expect huge changes. There is no expectation that job losses will occur. The budgets have not been reduced but also not increased so we will need to be more efficient with resources as we have been over the past few years. The teams have done well with streamlining process and procedures for efficiencies without compromising student experience. As always, our aim is to enhance student success: improve student outcomes – enhance the student experience.
More scholarships – where will the funding come from?
(answered by Kevin/Sherman)
Scholarships are coming from a variety of sources: corporate sponsors and philanthropic funds. We are working with DVC (Corporate Engagement) to target donors for scholarships. Other schemes are also in place- for example to allow staff to donate to support scholarships, and various other activities such as the donation of book royalties are being pooled for scholarships.
Will an employability framework be released in 2018?
(answered by Sherman/Kevin)
Yes, we are working on that framework now and expect it to be released in the first half of next year.
What will be different this time next year? What are three key outcomes?
(answered by Kevin)
- Clear strategy on nature and size
- Work on lifecycle & coherence, employability, student experience & digital L&T strategy underway
- Progress on student systems
What is your vision Kevin?
- Fantastic student experience – campus, community and classroom i.e. inside and outside the curriculum including digital
- Fantastic staff experience – clear roadmap for the educational experience of the university. Support for professional development and growth for staff.
- Building on existing success and capabilities, to be a University known locally & internationally for the quality of its learning and teaching, and student outcomes – a place that delivers quality education
- Streamlined systems, governance and processes to support the educational enterprise of the University
What are the plans to support students during station upgrade?
We have already piloted a number of timetable changes designed to reduce the number of students required to travel during peak morning hours. For example lecture streaming has reduced the need for 9am attendance by between 10-30% (depending on the day) for S1 2018. We will review the impact of that and improve deployment for the station upgrade. We are also looking at identifying unused spaces to push the bulk of student starts towards 10am. We also staggered the starting time of exams during the current exam period. Instead of all exams starting at 9am, they are now divided across 3 start times – you may have noticed that the normal 8-9am logjam has been somewhat reduced. At the same time, the university is working with the Government and Macquarie Park colleagues to ensure that extra bus services are appropriately planned.
Can we use the student experience lens to look at the new academic progression policy and if it honestly is affecting them?
(answered by Kevin/Leigh)
This is the first session that the bite of the progression policy will happen – students will not be able to re-enrol without seeking academic advice. When this was done on a smaller scale in one faculty the students improved their GPA by half a grade in the following session.
Nevertheless, this is an important point and we need to review the implementation and the effect on students and staff.
Recently released attrition data – what can we do to improve this?
(answered by Leigh)
Good point. We are about 10% behind USYD in terms of retention so we can improve!! One way is to improve the systems – and the VC has made a commitment to do this. We have done a few things:
1. Early enrolment to hook people into their classes earlier – more commitment
2. Progression policy – identify and support students at risk earlier so they don’t drop out
3. Better student representation and mentoring so that students are connected
4. First week tutorials for first year so that students connect to their learning early
5. Better student communication – MYMQ etc
6. Converged services and training to streamline information
7. Fabulous PACE and capstone experiences
8. All our wonderful teams who are working hard to help each individual student
With technology advancing towards automation, how do you feel this will impact the student experience? Especially when face to face human interaction is a large contributor to that experience?
Leigh: We need a sensible mixture of both. We all use online banking and book our basic flights online but go to specialists for more complex issues. This is good automation. It will allow staff to answer more difficult queries and spend time with each student in depth. Students want personal attention from their lecturers and for people to know their names. Good technology will streamline admin that improves experience.
We have had some great initiatives, such as the student policy portal, that really make a difference to communication.
Sherman: Also, technology provides an opportunity to deliver some engagement at scale that is just not possible face to face. For example, the MAI chatbot currently being developed out of Human Sciences can easily handle enquiries in real time that ask.mq does not have the capacity to provide. The motivation is to ensure that the face to face engagement is increased and improved – rather than using resources on ‘call centre’ type engagement, they can be deployed in ways that provide more human value – like advising, personal learning etc
When will Learning Technologies strategic framework be released?
First half of 2018
What is going to happen to the gum trees in the courtyard?
Information provided in “This Week – 7.11/17”