Vice-Chancellor sets out priorities for 2014

27 March 2014

Watch a video of the Vice-Chancellor's presentation to staff of his priorities for 2014.

"We have agreed at Senate and at SEG that these are the things upon which we ought as an institution particularly to focus in 2014," Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence told a forum of several hundred staff in the Veterinary Science Conference Centre last Thursday.

"Obviously this is not a comprehensive list of what's going on in the University", Dr Spence said. "It also doesn't mean that the things we talked about last year, like the Disability Action Plan, which is now being rolled out at the local level, or Wingara Mura, for which there are local implementation plans, or the INSPIRED fundraising campaign, are now done and dusted.

"These are the projects that will capture my attention during 2014 and on which we think there should be some kind of institutional focus."

The 2014 priorities are grouped under seven key headings:

  • Sydney Student and the reorganisation of student administration
  • education initiatives
  • research initiatives
  • health partnerships
  • leadership and staff development
  • digital strategy
  • supporting faculty excellence.

Read more about the 2014 priorities.

"The first priority (Sydney Student and the reorganisation of student administration) is arguably the most important," Dr Spence told the staff forum. "It is one that has tremendous potential for transforming the ease of operation of our students in the University."

There will be two releases this year of Sydney Student, the technology platform supporting student administration, that will, inter alia, pave the way for online enrolment for all students; online management of special permission, departmental permissions, candidature, name changes and student assessment; and online calculation and payment of fees.

In parallel the University has started a conversation about reorganising our student administration services, based on a series of principles.

"The first principle is that a student should be able to do as much online as she possibly can and as she wants to," Dr Spence told the staff forum. "Second, that when she comes to the University, she should preferably have a 'one-counter experience'. Third, that academics should only do as much student administration as genuinely requires academic input. And fourth, there should be common processes across the University as much as possible.

"This is huge," Dr Spence said. "It will require the patience of colleagues across the University, but is potentially transformative for students and staff, if it gives our staff in student administration the opportunity to be a part of a single system that works rather than having to say to students, "Well I'd love to help you but sorry you're at the wrong counter", and if our students can genuinely have the one-counter and online experience."

After the Vice-Chancellor's presentation, colleagues asked Dr Spence a number of questions, including about government funding, progress on the Queen Mary Building student accommodation project, implementation of the Wills Review, the impact of SEG on University decision-making, progress on the Australian Institute of Nanoscience, the international student market, and what the University had learned from community consultation during work on the Abercrombie Precinct.