March update from SEG

3 April 2014

Dear colleagues,

I would like to update you on the two meetings of SEG that took place in March.
You can find below some of the decisions and points discussed at those meetings, but there are two areas I would like to cover in more depth.

Student administration
At our meeting on 13 March, Zeljko Nikolic, who is overseeing the Student Administration Services Project, provided SEG with an update on our work to develop a new model for delivering student administration.
As I said at the 20 March staff forum, this project is a key University priority for 2014. The proposed operating model for the delivery of student administration services, which SEG approved at the 13 March meeting, has been developed with input from academic and professional staff across the University and has four core components.

  • A clearly defined framework for student administration that provides effective and consistent processes, clear ownership and management and continuous improvement of services.
  • A more efficient, whole-of-University student administration structure, based on a partnership between a centralised student administration services unit and designated academic and professional colleagues in faculties, schools, departments and related PSUs.
  • A technology platform that delivers the sort of enhanced online experience our students and staff now expect.
  • Physical infrastructure that combines student self-service facilities with better-designed areas that will be used for face-to-face services, along with workspaces for staff that facilitate collaboration and communication.

The conversation at SEG underlined to me that our work in this area, along with the related Sydney Student program, has the potential to really improve both our student experience and the working life of our staff. However, it will also be a cultural shift. As I set out in my 2014 priorities paper, academics ought only to be involved in student administration where academic judgment is genuinely required. But we need to provide assurance to those many academic colleagues who regularly help their students with all sorts of questions beyond their sphere of academic specialty that this new student administration system will meet students' needs, both online and at support counters.

Reflecting the importance I place on getting this right, SEG is spending today, 3 April, discussing student administration services in depth and we will provide further updates in due course.

Marketing and communications

Also at our 13 March meeting, SEG approved the proposed goals, priorities and deliverables for marketing and communications for 2014.

Following the 2013 changes to the marketing and communications organisational structure, in 2014 we are changing our approach to these activities, which are so important to our relationships with future students and staff, alumni, donors, parents, government and industry partners - and, of course, our current staff and students.

Through market research, we now have evidence to support our understanding that the University's reputation and influence are the most important drivers of awareness, choice and advocacy among these groups. We also know that the landscape of higher education is becoming much more competitive - prospective students now consider applying to a much wider range of universities than they used to.

We must address this problem proactively and I am confident that our new Marketing and Communications PSU will enable us to do that, focusing on how we build the reputation of our University and support our recruitment efforts.

It is particularly important at a time of great change in higher education nationally and globally that the University's messages to external stakeholders should be aligned. So in 2014 our focus will not be on specific course advertising or on the production of one-off brochures, but on the implementation of coordinated and integrated campaigns that enhance our reputation within Australia and overseas, and to recruit the student population we are seeking.

Other discussions and decisions at the March SEG meetings included the following:
13 March

  • SEG noted the criteria and timelines for honorary awards of degrees and deans agreed to give consideration to possible nominations.
  • SEG approved revised terms of reference for the SEG Education Committee and noted that they had been amended to reflect the inclusion of curriculum renewal and oversight of the cycle of regular faculty curriculum reviews.
  • SEG endorsed the draft revised Redeployment Policy and Procedures and noted that the documents aligned with the Fair Work Act requirement of a proactive approach to staff affected by change. The draft revisions will now proceed to consultation with staff and unions.

27 March

  • SEG gave in-principle support to the proposal to introduce a Diploma of Tertiary Preparation, which would provide a direct pathway entry scheme for domestic students into the Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science (BLAS) in the first instance.
  • SEG gave in-principle approval for work to begin on consolidating the University rules, resolutions and policies that currently govern coursework degrees to address issues of overlap and inconsistency. SEG noted that the 'Delegations of Authority - Academic Functions' would also be reviewed and updated in parallel.
  • SEG endorsed the proposal for field of research (FoR) coordinator contributions to the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2015 exercise to be recognised in the AP&D review process in acknowledgement of the demanding nature and importance of the role to the University.
  • SEG gave its in-principle approval to the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies Strategic Investment Plan, noting that it represented a prioritisation of the Engineering & IT precinct and provided the context for investment. SEG noted that individual business cases for funding of project phases would be developed for future consideration to determine the actual investment commitment.
  • SEG approved the establishment of an 85 percent target for completion of AP&D reviews in 2014. SEG also noted the update on the evaluation of options for new software underpinning the AP&D process and that the interim paper-based system would continue for 2014.
  • SEG endorsed the proposed approach for the 2015 Capital Project Prioritisation (CPP) Process and noted that CIS and building-related ICT works processes would be combined for the 2015 CPP allocation to streamline the application process.

If you have any questions about any of the above, please email I am grateful to those of you who have provided feedback on these updates from SEG. Your input helps us to improve our communications.

Dr Michael Spence

Vice-Chancellor and Principal