Potential restructure could impact student learning at Murdoch

As the consultation period ends for whether Murdoch will go ahead with its proposal for academic restructure, job security for some staff hangs in the balance.

By Hannah Cross

At the end of last semester, an announcement was sent to Murdoch staff and students to state that the university is looking to completely overhaul its academic structure.

Pending a consultation period that ended yesterday, August 3rd, the announcement stated that, should the proposal go ahead, there would be two new Colleges:

  • The College of Creative Industries, Arts, Business, Law and Education; and
  • The College of Science, Engineering, IT, Health and Medicine

Five faculties (down from nine schools) would come under these two colleges, and three interdisciplinary research institutes would be born.

 

 Image: Murdoch University Towards 2027

Image: Murdoch University Towards 2027

 

While the restructure would promise an increase in interdisciplinary learning and creating “opportunities for new synergies,” such changes could have a large impact on the Murdoch community.

“It affects staff first, and then subsequently it affects students,” says Mark Tan, Murdoch’s Postgraduate Assist Officer.

Tan experienced a restructure when he worked at UWA (which saw their ratings plummet) and is sceptical about what this could mean for Murdoch if the proposal is given the green light.

The website dedicated to Murdoch’s ten-year plan highlights “minimal redundancies” for staff concerned with job security, however the detailed proposal available for download online does state “there will be some senior staff impacts if the proposal goes ahead”.

According to Tan, having less staff could see an increase in workload for remaining faculty members and therefore potential deficits in other areas such as marking.

While he stresses it is too early to predict the real impacts of this change, Tan says less staff with increased workloads could perhaps result in less specialised teaching.

A large-scale merge like this could see university lecturers and tutors tackling more subjects outside their discipline. In terms of student learning, this means the professionals teaching you might not be directly involved in your discipline.

“That would be a very real possibility, and it will be at the expense of the students,” he says.

 

Union Concerns

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has told METIOR that members have raised several concerns relating to the proposed restructure.

“Concerns centre around the lack of justification for the proposal, given that no such change is required to promote interdisciplinary study (which is already available and based on course structures),” says a statement from the NTEU’s WA Division Secretary, Gabe Gooding.

Other worries raised with the NTEU include the lack of cost analysis and lack of transparency and genuine consultation with staff “on the ground”.

The NTEU also says members are worried about the potential of diluting discipline integrity.

 

Waiting Game

METIOR has been in contact with the Vice Chancellor’s Office, who say they are unable to answer many questions about the restructure because they do not know the answers yet. The office maintains, however, that no formal decisions have been made.

As far as us students are concerned, we must wait and see whether Murdoch chooses to go ahead with this restructure and the implications it may have.

 

For more information on the proposal and to give your feedback, visit https://www.murdoch.edu.au/towards2027/home/.