University announces faculty realignment

University announces faculty realignment

Schools and disciplines at the University of Wollongong will be realigned from five faculties into four as the University is reshaped in response to what it calls “irreversible changes” brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 has brought permanent, far-reaching changes to our world and to higher education in Australia and globally,” UOW Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Wellings CBE, said.

“We have already responded quickly to the government’s call for education to support economic recovery by establishing short courses. Now we must think broader and longer-term to reshape our Institution in preparation for a very different higher education sector in a post-COVID-19 world”.

The reorganisation will see the University’s School of Law, along with the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources & Security (ANCORS) join with the schools currently hosted in the Faculty of Business.

The merger will form the new Faculty of Business and Law (BAL) under the leadership of Professor Colin Picker, currently the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts.

Meanwhile, the schools of The Arts, English and Media; Liberal Arts; and Humanities and Social Inquiry are proposed to join with the schools and research entities currently housed in the Faculty of Social Sciences to form the new Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) under the leadership of Professor Glenn Salkeld, currently Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences.

The Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health (SMAH) and the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences (EIS) will remain unchanged,

“This faculty realignment builds on the existing strengths of our people and disciplines as well as promoting closer collaboration across teaching, research and engagement,” Professor Wellings said.

The grouping together of HASS disciplines and business and law schools into single faculties more closely aligns UOW with the disciplinary groupings commonly found in many other universities in Australia and overseas.

Professor Wellings said the realignment will not impact front line academic teaching or research roles, but will create efficiencies at senior executive and senior management levels, with one Executive Dean position “dissolved immediately”.

Despite the radical changes, the University’s students will be unaffected, with existing schools to remain and teaching of existing courses and subjects to continue as scheduled.

Staff have been notified of the change, with further information being provided on the University’s intranet.

Unique solutions for unique circumstances
UOW’s faculty realignment comes as the University said it will consider alternative solutions to the tertiary union’s national Jobs Protection Framework to address the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Tertiary Education Union’s framework would allow universities in severe financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 temporarily cut wages up to 15%. However, it has produced a mixed reaction from the tertiary sector.

Professor Wellings said the decision was made after considering the proposed framework “in light of UOW’s unique circumstances, including its immediate challenges and long-term strategic outlook”.

“The University’s leadership team has carefully analysed the NTEU’s Australian Universities Jobs Protection Framework and, while we greatly appreciate the efforts of all those involved and share some of their objectives, the University will not be a signatory to this memorandum,” Professor Wellings said.

“The framework does not offer the best pathway to confront the challenges we must deal with to prepare UOW for a sustainable future”.

Professor Wellings said that while the proposed national framework offers some important short-term reductions in pay and conditions for staff to help address the adverse financial impacts of the pandemic, it is not a long-term solution.

“We must plan for a longer period of time, given the scale of the recession and its likely impact on international student numbers in 2021 and 2022,” he said.

“The framework restricts us from taking that view”.