News

Message from the Acting Vice-Chancellor: Improving our administrative services


30 October 2012

I apologise in advance for the length of this email, but thought it was important as the end of the year approaches to update you on the work that is currently being undertaken to improve and simplify our administration, as we foreshadowed in our 2011-2015 Strategic Plan.

Since implementation began on the plan, the Finance, ICT and CIS professional service units have been refining their structures and the management of services, accruing cumulative cost savings so far of more than $15 million. A review of HR is currently underway under the leadership of our new Director of Human Resources, Boyd Williams.

Earlier this year, as a first phase in the plan to streamline the remaining services, two working partieschaired by the Provost were convened to begin looking at the delivery of marketing, communications, student recruitment and student administrative services. Both working parties have had significant input into the development of an integrated framework for these services that recognises the critical nature of good service to students and staff, and the importance of seamless transition of responsibility for the student experience as students move from their first enquiry to the administration of their studies and graduation.

At the beginning of the second phase of this work, SEG agreed a new conceptual model, and planning has now begun to develop a proposed organisational structure. The Vice-Chancellor is chairing a governance committee which is overseeing this project to ensure that the seamless and integrated student experience remains a primary focus. Four new working groups have been established to build on the work of the original two groups. Three of these groups are looking, individually, at marketing and communications; student recruitment and admissions; and student administration services. The fourth working party is developing plans to meet the infrastructure needs which will be associated with a new approach to delivery of these three services.

There remains a lot of work to be done in refining general principles into specific proposals and mapping the work flows and options that would be needed to give effect to them. Similarly, there needs to be more thinking around staffing levels and roles for any proposed model. Considerable progress has been made with respect to marketing and communications, thanks to the work of numerous staff in the faculties and the central portfolios, but work in the areas ofrecruitment and admissions and student administration remains preliminary and conceptual.

At its last meeting, the governance board agreed that, as work was further advanced in the area of marketing and communications, a draft change proposal relating to those areas is likely to be released for wide consultation before the end of the year. In the areas of recruitment, admissions and administration, however, and especially given that we are heading into the major admissionsseason when staff will rightly be focused on operational workflows and deadlines, the University will not be in a position to propose any change until after February 2013.

The benchmarking data and feedback from those who work with our current systems all suggest that our professional staff have been doing an amazing job coping with antiquated platforms and service models. It is only your dedication that enables the University to keep going.

I must, however, ask you also to continue to think about ways of doing thingsbetter so that we can improve life at the University for both staff and students.

I assure you all that in these critical areas, major decisions will not be made without consulting with expert and affected staff. I wish to thank everyone for their persistence in getting us to this stage of our thinking as we head into the peak period for recruitment and admissions.

I invite you to provide your feedback to university.consultation@sydney.edu.au.


Yours sincerely

Stephen Garton