These changes are part of the University’s response to the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the University.
The University’s new Strategic Plan, which was released in September after staff and stakeholder consultation, is phased over the next 10 years – from focusing on our core strengths to ensure financial recovery, to building the foundations for sustainable growth and reinvestment. The plan articulates our aim to emerge as a relevant and future-focused university.
We are in the initial, financial recovery phase of the plan and all areas of the University have been required to deliver business plans outlining how they will implement the Strategic Plan in their part of the University, while contributing to the savings required to deliver a balanced budget for the University in 2020 and 2021 and return it to growth in 2022.
The Schools of Education and HUSS have reviewed their course and subject portfolios as part of this business planning process and, where courses and subjects are financially unsustainable, they will be consolidated, streamlined or there will be changes in the mode of delivery; and a small number will be closed.
Any proposed course or subject closures that have a staffing impact require further consultation before any changes are implemented. This is in accordance with the University’s Collective Agreement and the Jobs Protection Framework (JPF).
In line with this process, change proposals seeking feedback from specific staff on changes to courses and subjects in the School of HUSS and the School of Education have been released today. Affected staff have been fully briefed and advised on the consultation process.
The School of Education change includes a proposed reduction of five ongoing roles across the Bundoora and Bendigo campuses. The HUSS change addresses subjects and course structure. Should the consultation in HUSS result in a need to reduce staff, this will occur through voluntary redundancies as the first option. For both Schools, these are proposals only and potential impacts will depend on the outcomes of the consultation.
Any impacted courses and subjects will be taught out for existing students or suitable alternatives offered.
While financial sustainability is a focus of this first phase of the Strategic Plan, other changes to courses and subjects strategically align with our new Course Architecture, designed and initiated pre-COVID, to provide better course navigation for students, more cross-disciplinary opportunities, and better employability outcomes.
Also as part of our new strategic direction, we are shifting to different modes of delivery for some of our courses and subjects, opening up much greater choice, accessibility and flexibility for students at all life stages and across all of our campuses in Melbourne and regional Victoria.
La Trobe University remains focussed on saving as many jobs as possible. Importantly, the JPF has given us time to do that and plan properly for the future. Under the JPF, where change proposals do contain consultation on staff redundancy, staff will be offered voluntary redundancy and/or redeployment where possible before any involuntary redundancies occur.
Summary of HUSS and School of Education change proposals
*NB For both Schools, these are proposals only and potential impacts will depend on the outcomes of the consultation.
School of Humanities and Social Sciences proposed changes
* Suspension of Bachelor of Creative Arts from 2021, with Visual Arts and Creative Writing majors remaining. We are proposing to offer a refreshed and distinctive visual arts degree in Bendigo, which will build on deep community engagement in this field.
* A fully online Bachelor of Arts across all of our regional campuses - to increase flexibility and major/subject choice and enable us to reach students across Victoria and interstate. All students will have the added benefit of Regional Connect, which will deliver a range of exciting face to face services, including the introduction of students to local business and industry partners.
* Consolidation of UG and PG Planning and Community Development degrees into an accredited 4-year program (Bendigo) from 2022 – La Trobe remains committed to its Planning offer in Bendigo and the new consolidated program will continue to be deeply embedded in the local community, with strong industry partnerships and excellent career outcomes.
* Cessation of Hindi, Indonesian, and Greek Studies (Bundoora) – market demand and student enrolments have been consistently low for several years. We will continue to support students who wish to enrol in our degrees and study languages we don’t offer through cross-institutional enrolment. We will continue to offer a wide range of other language subjects, including Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian and Auslan.
* Realignment of the Philosophy major to enhance service teaching potential across Schools and Colleges. From a relatively low base we will improve enrolments in Philosophy by reconfiguring the curriculum to better provide for students in degrees across the University, particularly in other Schools. A Philosophy major will, however, continue to exist as part of the Bachelor of Arts.
Under the proposals, all current students in the courses will have the opportunity to complete their degrees and will be supported in the transition.
The HUSS change addresses subjects and course structure. Should the consultation in HUSS result in a need to reduce staff, this will occur through voluntary redundancies as the first option. These are proposals only and potential impacts will depend on the outcomes of the consultation.
School of Education Change Proposal
The proposals target courses and subjects with declining and unsustainable student numbers.
* Proposed reduction of subjects as part of a new Outdoor Education program proposed in Bendigo for 2022
In response to in-depth market analysis, and to the challenges which COVID-19 has presented, there is currently significant work underway to redesign and consolidate our Outdoor Education offerings which formerly sat across five separate but similar courses, into one, single distinct course for 2022. The refreshed course will have a focus on employability and in efficiency of design and delivery of the course. Our change proposal involves a reduction of distinct Outdoor Education subjects from 37 to 10, reducing subjects where enrolments were very low and therefore financially unsustainable, and, for the first time, maximising shared subjects from other subjects offered in Education and across the University. This will lead to better employment outcomes, student choice (for majors) and industry links.
* Closure of the Bachelor of Technology Education
Low enrolment in this course (commencing enrolments down 50 per cent since 2017) relates to the current regulatory requirements which enable teachers to enter and continue employment as technology teachers without completing this program. As a result, the program is not viewed as necessary by future students.
* Closure of the Master of Applied Linguistics and Master of TESOL
Both degrees rely heavily on international student intake (75-96 per cent of student load over the last five years). These numbers have significantly reduced because of COVID-19 but enrolments were low pre-COVID.
The School of Education change includes a proposed reduction of five ongoing roles across the Bundoora and Bendigo campuses. These are proposals only and potential impacts will depend on the outcomes of the consultation.
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