Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings The University of Wollongong is set to undergo its biggest restructure in 20 years in a bid to be placed in the top 1 per cent of the world’s universities.
Combining 11 faculties into five super faculties is one of the major proposals outlined in the draft five-year strategic plan announced by Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings yesterday.
Prof Wellings said the proposed faculty mergers would result in ‘‘increased efficiencies’’ but would not cause any job cuts, nor would there be any cuts to courses or subjects.
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‘‘If you look around the country, Wollongong University is unusual as its academic structures were set in 1990 and have not been significantly restructured for 20 years,’’ he said.
‘‘If we want to be faster and more flexible then we need to reorganise to maximise the assets we’ve got. Nearly every university in Australia is moving in this direction.’’
Under the proposed restructure, the faculties of Law, Arts and Creative Arts would be merged into a faculty called Arts, Humanities and Law.
The Commerce Faculty would come under the banner of the Sydney Business School.
Engineering, Informatics and Science would be brought together into a super-faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, and the remaining faculties would come under the banners of Medical and Life Sciences and Human and Social Sciences.
Prof Wellings said a merger of faculties would lead to a greater alignment of research and teaching resources and allow for increased interdisciplinary and cross-faculty collaboration.
‘‘The debate is around making sure the research culture of the university is very strong – that’s the thing that will drive us forward,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s about getting more research, more citations and a greater emphasis on the postgraduate research environment.
‘‘[In terms of courses] we will be expanding our brief rather than reducing our brief.
‘‘It’s about enhancing the student experience and creating more opportunities for interdisciplinary courses and joint degrees across subject boundaries.’’
Prof Wellings said the proposed new structure would result in a refocused academic profile.
‘‘Each faculty will be run by an executive dean under the proposal, with heads of schools appointed,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s about getting academics in the right schools and in the right places.’’
A faculty merger, he believes, would allow the university to advance its international standing, which would further attract students, quality staff and research opportunities.
‘‘There’s about 20,000 universities in the world and Wollongong has done a brilliant job of getting into the top 2per cent, and now the ambition is to move it into the top 1per cent,’’ Prof Wellings said.
‘‘Graduates of the future will need on their CVs a degree that comes from a brilliant university… they will benefit from this repositioning of the university.
‘‘The region will also benefit. At the heart of our strategic plan is our ambition for Wollongong to be a destination university and for Wollongong to be a university city.’’
The consultation period for the draft strategic plan will be open until the end of September, with a final version of the structure to be presented on October 19.
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