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JCU may opt for collegial structure

JCU's proposed headline restructure would be based on seven colleges rather than a faculties and schools system.

December 6, 2013: - James Cook University’s proposed headline restructure will be based on seven colleges rather than a faculty and schools system.

Presented to the University’s staff today, the proposal will be open for feedback from the JCU community until January 28 before it and the results of the consultation are put to the University Council for a final decision in February.

JCU Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding told staff forums today that proposed changes were aimed at shaping the architecture for JCU in order to give greater strength to the University’s distinctiveness, lay the foundation for greatness and provide for an organisation that is resilient and sustainable.

“The ambition is to uphold a University that is unique in the Australian higher education setting, in terms of its focus, the student experience and its engagement,” she said.

Under the proposal, the University’s four faculties would be replaced by two divisions - Tropical Health and Life Sciences, and Environment, Science and Design.

The existing structure of 14 schools under the faculties would be replaced by seven colleges – three of which would be under the Division of Tropical Health and Life Sciences and four under Environment, Science and Design.

The proposal lists the colleges as:

Health & Life Sciences;

Allied Health;

Medicine & Dentistry;

Governance & Economy;

Society & Arts;

Earth System Sciences

Design, Science & Technology

Professor Harding said the proposed structure promotes logical/intuitive groupings of disciplines to make it easier to implement a Grand Challenges framework and the potential development of signature programs.

“It will create a new context and organisation of disciplines which will foster innovation among cognate disciplines and potentially identify areas to be powered up; and provides enhanced opportunities for collaboration across disciplines in learning and teaching, research and engagement,” she said

The restructure, if approved, would also create three corporate divisions covering Research & Innovation, Academic & Student Life, and Services & Resources in place of the present four divisions.

The proposal presented to staff today follows almost 18 months of extensive consultation with staff, students, the University Council and other stakeholders on the possible future directions of JCU.

Two reports were issued in March this year – Crystallising our Purpose and the Review of Services and Operations – with a number of recommendations about the possible future directions for the University in regards to learning and teaching, research and engagement.

“After a review of those recommendations, it became clear that some reorganisation of the University was required to achieve the objectives of providing the University with the strongest future possible,” Professor Harding said.

Face-to-face information sessions will be held with staff next week and in mid-January to explain the changes and to receive feedback.

Professor Harding also told the staff forums today that a voluntary redundancy scheme would be released this month in response to the increasing financial pressures and funding cuts experienced by the University, although any decisions on redundancies would not likely be made until late February or early March next year.

JCU Media: Jim O’Brien 07 4781 4822 or 0418 892449James Cook University’s Professor

Issued: December 6, 2013