Read about the 2012 scholarship programs
- Sarah Fletcher, Career Services Manager, Careers and Employer Relations, Business School
- Simon French, Director, Graduate Studies Office
- Mark Moeller, Landscape and Grounds Manager, Campus Infrastructure and Services
- Paragi Trivedi, Principal Auditor, Audit and Risk Management
Project: Investigate industry placement programs, community based learning initiatives and alternative university entry programs for students from a low socio-economic background.
Sarah visited nine universities in Canada and North America to benchmark initiatives currently being implemented in the University of Sydney’s Business School. These initiatives aim to deliver work placements and engage students outside the normal classroom environment as well as encourage learning through partnerships across all business disciplines.
Sarah's findings revealed that American and Canadian students would often make decisions about where they wanted to study based on the University's reputation for industry placement. Work-integrated learning in Australia was found to be relatively low, particularly among the Group of Eight Universities, therefore the further development of the Business School's Industry Placement Program would serve to drive and enhance the University's reputation in this regard.
The outcomes are best described by Sarah’s comment: “This research trip has provided me not only with the opportunity to benchmark our current practices globally, but also the opportunity to take time out to reflect on the scope of our community-engaged learning and teaching, and social inclusion activities, and think strategically about the next phase.”
In regards to social inclusion, Sarah commented that “the initiatives of the universities visited indicates an authentic commitment to closing the gap" and that "social inclusion for the Business School means developing a long term strategy to resource and support the Inspired by Business Program.” The Inspired by Business Program is a flexible-entry support program for students from identified low socioeconomic status backgrounds that has been piloted in the Business School.
Sarah's project is relevant to the Business School and the University as a whole as evidenced by Strategy 11: "To attract and support promising students from a diversity of social and cultural backgrounds."
Sarah's background is in education and training. She joined the Business School's Careers and Employer Relations unit five years ago and now shares management responsibilities.
Project: To compare best practice and policy in relation to the management of higher degree by research (HDR) candidatures.
Simon visited Columbia University, New York University and the City University of New York to conduct his project.
He commented: “Our University faces a major challenge in providing work spaces for HDR students that meets their needs as well as being cost effective and sustainable. We have 4200 HDR students and only around half the number of desks. These students have different needs, depending on their field of research and work patterns, and are also very different to coursework students."
Simon looked specifically at student spaces and progress reporting, although discussion ranged into many other areas of strategy and practice for HDR students.
He commented: "The specific implementable outcomes have been most immediate in the area of HDR spaces including benchmarking of design standards for HDR spaces, student-to- desk ratios, student satisfaction levels and utilization rates. It was also possible to compare management practices of these spaces, which enable a higher utilization rate of similar physical plant. These are now being incorporated into the University’s Learning Spaces standards document to create uniform design and management standards for HDR spaces, which we have never had before. While the design of physical plant and student-to-desk ratios compare favorably with all of these institutions, our utilization rates are significantly lower. We can now set justifiable target utilization rates, and are working with faculties to amend management practice to increase the utilization of existing spaces without requiring significant refurbishment."
In the area of progress reporting, Simon's findings were that the increased inclusion of coursework in HDR degrees as a result of the Strategic Plan would enable the University to emulate the best practice of these institutions.
These findings will be incorporated into the design of Annual Progress Review (APR) workflows in the Sydney Student program, currently scheduled for release in semester 1, 2013. The SEG Research Training Committee currently has a working party looking to review the APR process in preparation for the Sydney Student build. Simon said,"It is expected that an improved APR process will increase the educational value of that process (leading to benefits such as reduced attrition, more timely completion, and improved examination outcomes) while reducing the bureaucratic costs to faculties in administering the process."
The feedback from Simon's manager, Professor Marie Carroll, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs), was that Simon's travelling scholarship learning experience is invaluable to the University as we seek to achieve best practice in service delivery for HDR students.
Simon heads a small centralised team that develops policies and provides support to faculties in addressing problems that are best solved using a University-wide approach.
Project: Compare campus grounds management practices used by the University of Sydney with four United States campuses (Columbia, Yale, Princeton and Chicago) specifically relating to benchmarking, sustainability, landscape master planning and design.
Mark reported that Chicago University proved the best comparison to the University of Sydney in terms of campus size and grounds staff numbers. The overall quality of the Chicago University grounds was outstanding, particularly the quality of the lawns and the cleanliness of the campus. The grounds unit was very well-funded and supported as evidenced by the quality of the lawn care and campus cleanliness.
His manager, Stephen Sullivan (Facility Management & Services Divisional Manager), was very positive about the outcomes achieved: "There was a genuine sense of pride and recognition to see Mark get this opportunity," Stephen said. "It provided a tremendous boost to morale knowing a colleague’s application for the scholarship was successful.”
Stephen outlined a number of benefits that have resulted from Mark's scholarship:
- exposure to a different cultural, business and environmental approach to grounds management
- benchmarking of peer university grounds operations in the United States with the University of Sydney
- opportunities to consider the introduction of new infrastructure and equipment, systems, methodologies and processes, including water saving irrigation technology and green waste recycling such as solar powered compactors
- educational benefits through a presentation by Mark to Campus Infrastructure and Services (CIS) with an overview of his trip and findings (attended by 100 staff)
- developed and established a network of professional peers to allow a cross-flow of information, ideas, strategies and best practice
- demonstrated and encouraged others within CIS to look at similar opportunities within their areas to benefit the University as well as their own personal career development.
Mark joined the University 19 years ago as a gardener. Mark and his staff of 20 look after more than 100 hectares of very diverse urban grounds covering extensive lawns, a variety of gardens both native and European, and 2000 plus trees, including some heritage classed ones such as the famous jacaranda tree in the Quadrangle.
Project: Develop audit skills by working in risk mangement and audit services (RMAS) at an international university
Paragi selected Harvard University because of its history, profile and diversity. Harvard's RMAS department has 22 staff covering a signifcant number of audit disciplines including construction and IT auditing. It was an ideal environment to learn new audit methodologies and techniques to apply to the University of Sydney. Her project outcomes included:
- developing a better understanding of IT and construction audit programs
- new ideas gained around possible automation of audit working papers
- new approaches for enhancing relationships with audit clients, for example, post-audit surveys with clients
- raised awareness of the need for tighter security of high-risk information, for example through adopting a weekly scanning system for the network
- developed an understanding of the importance of a social media policy
- explored the model of support provided to Harvard researchers in managing each stage of the grant lifecyle through a one-stop research management system
- observed automated workflows with designated staff to ensure only the appropriate delegated officers had authority in the University procurement approval process.
Personal outcomes for Paragi included the ability to adapt to a new work culture, build rapport with international colleagues, act as an ambassador for the University of Sydney and open the door for future collaborations with Harvard University.
Paragi has worked in the Audit and Risk Management unit of the University since 2005.