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Featured News Reshaping JCU to meet future demand

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Wed, 18 Apr 2018

Reshaping JCU to meet future demand

James Cook University has announced proposed changes that would ensure the University is more responsive to changing student demand and is financially sustainable.

The University has released a Change Proposal, for consultation with staff, which identifies proposed changes, including altering the delivery of some courses. The proposed changes would better position the University to respond to an increasingly competitive and resource-constrained sector.

The context in which JCU is operating is changing, impacted by increased competition, reduced student numbers, loss of external income sources including reduced Commonwealth funding, and a highly volatile and uncertain public policy environment.

Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Chris Cocklin said JCU needs to respond to these challenges.

“Australian universities are undergoing massive transformation including increased competition for students and resources, as well as reduced government funding, and JCU must adapt.”

An external review released in March shows that in 2016, JCU contributed $827m to Queensland’s economy, with 97% of that economic impact delivered in the Townsville and Cairns regions.

“We want to continue to deliver that economic boost to our regions and in the current circumstances, we must change how we do business to ensure we are financially sustainable.

“The proposed changes will provide a more focused and responsive approach to the changing demographics of our student base. We are focussed on the demands of students and delivering the future workforce for our regions,” Prof. Cocklin said.

Proposed changes include:

  • Investment in increased delivery of online courses including a new Master of Business Administration (Global).
  • Discontinue intake of new students for face-to-face teaching in Cairns for Bachelor of Psychological Science, Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science, Bachelor of Exercise Physiology (Clinical) and related joint degrees.
  • JCU will leverage the success of its Internet of Things (IOT) Engineering and IT courses in Cairns, and the planned new Cairns Innovation Centre facility, by moving the Information Technology discipline to the College of Science & Engineering to build critical mass with IOT data science and other disciplines.
  • Consolidation of staffing and curricula across the geosciences and earth sciences and Information Technology and technology focused disciplines.
  • Offering Communication and Design, and Media and Visual Arts, as majors in the Bachelor of Arts in Townsville and Cairns respectively to replace the Bachelor of Creative Arts and Media in Cairns and Townsville;
  • Discontinue Master of Economics program due to low student demand.

JCU is a substantial and key employer for northern Queensland. In 2017, JCU employed approximately 4,700 staff in Australia.

While no decisions have been made, the proposed changes may, if implemented result in a reduction of 32 staff (17 in Townsville, 14 in Cairns and one in either Townsville or Cairns).

These proposed changes are included in a Change Proposal, prepared in accordance with the University's Enterprise Agreement, that will be shared with staff, and there will be a two-week consultation process for staff to respond to the proposed changes.