The University of Newcastle, Australia

Turning to our students - May 2018

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

We are now well into the second quarter of the year, and work associated with re-imagining our University into the future has been gaining pace. The framework that underpins this important process is the Education Redesign project. Thanks to the good work of our stream leads and to the contributions from colleagues across the University, we now have a comprehensive Student Journey Map to guide our thinking and focus our efforts on the student experience as we redesign our approaches to our work. The map is complemented by the New Education Framework – approved by Council approved in early 2018 – which details a range of projects that will transform our course and program offerings and the ways in which we enable learning and teaching.

This next phase of the ‘Turning to our Students’ project really does involve re-imagining the ways we deliver services and systems, as opposed to simply restructuring the ways in which we organise ourselves. The pace of change in our sector, and our world, is obvious to all of us and so in future-proofing UON we will need to be creative and committed. The phrase “student centred and staff friendly” will be key as we turn to the next phase of our work.

In consultation with the Faculty PVCs I have constructed some early conceptual designs to help challenge our current approach to supporting students and the learning and teaching endeavour, that are in alignment with the Student Journey Map and the NeW Education Framework. These conceptual designs, along with development of roadmaps and timelines, will provide the basis for the next phase of work, which is being guided by a small Task Force I have put together. The Task Force will be assisted by staff in the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and will also engage a team specialising in the implementation of design change and who have worked with around 20 universities across Australia over the last several years to improve processes.

We still have a huge task ahead of us and I have been greatly encouraged by the interest and enthusiasm that many of you have shared with me about the projects we are launching this year. These include revitalising our Open Day experiences, developing new program prototypes, implementing the first phase of our online strategy, reviewing scholarships, and a more coordinated approach to retention and success that builds on some of the fantastic work that has been happening for the last several years.

I am acutely aware that as we develop and implement these new approaches and initiatives, we are also working hard to ensure that core teaching, learning, and research endeavours continue to flourish. I know that changes can create a challenging work environment and I appreciate the efforts that everyone makes to ensure we experience UON as a dynamic and positive workplace. With this in mind I am focussed on launching a range of initiatives to support and recognise our educators and I will advertise these in coming weeks.

The next phase of our work will touch on all areas of the University and I am in no doubt as to the importance of proceeding carefully and with a sound evidence base. As with the work we have done to date, the next steps will take appropriate time as we consider and test assumptions in a staged approach. This engaged and evolving model of service delivery and support will set us up for the challenges we face now and into the future.

Thank you to all of you for your cooperation and your commitment. I will be organising a number of “Town Hall” type meetings over the course of the year as plans develop. In the meantime, introductory information about the Student Journey Map and the New Education Framework is available on our Education Redesign page, which we have just released. This will be an evolving microsite aimed at supporting the implementation of strategies and as such we will gradually add more information both about the re-imaging process and also the exciting projects that are rolling out across the University to realise our education transformation.


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