University of Newcastle course changes signalled

Today the University of Newcastle released details about the interim outcomes of its ‘Course Optimisation’ review of course structures.

The University has undertaken an in-depth review of its academic course structures to reduce the complexity of its degree programs and allow resources to be better aligned with student demand and future workforce needs. This will significantly remove duplication, streamline degree structures, and foster better interdisciplinary collaboration. The project is a foundational initiative of the University’s Looking Ahead Strategic Plan (2020-2025), and will help deliver financial benefits that will ensure the long-term sustainability of the University.

Today the University wrote to its staff and students to inform them of the outcomes of the review so far, and invite their feedback.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky AO said: “We want to enhance our education approach to build capacity for our students and have more room in our timetables for skills development and work integrated learning. This will be key to preparing our students for life beyond university.

“We have flagged for some time now the need to consolidate the courses we offer if we’re to enhance the way we educate. The financial impact of COVID-19 has accelerated the need for these planned changes,” he said.

Currently the University offers more than 100 undergraduate degree programs, and 90 postgraduate degrees, made up of more than 2200 course subjects. The review has identified three undergraduate and 19 postgraduate degree programs for potential suspension in 2021, as well as around 500 individual courses for discontinuation.

“By streamlining our portfolio and redirecting valuable resources, we are able to offer our students future-focused degree programs. For example, we will be able to embed work integrated learning into every degree, and encourage critical thinking and multidisciplinary collaboration by bringing students together from several degrees to learn core skills together.”

The Vice-Chancellor made it clear that all current students will be able to complete the degree program in which they are enrolled. In many cases, they will see enhanced opportunities in their remaining years, which will be available to them, should they wish. “Our focus is on improving the student experience. Our students can feel comfortable with their degree selection knowing we will help them map the best program to achieve their study and career goals,” he said.

The programs and courses that have been identified for potential suspension or discontinuation have been discussed at Faculty Board meetings this week and will be submitted to the University’s Program and Course Approval Committee (PCAC) for consideration and noting in October.

Following this meeting, the University will continue curriculum mapping, transition planning and undertaking further staff and stakeholder consultation. It will also undertake workforce planning, recognising that a reduction in overall course load will result in less staff required to deliver it.

Curriculum changes will be in effect from Semester 1 2021, with the new timetable published in December.

Undergraduate degree programs proposed for suspension in 2021:
  1. Bachelor of Creative Industries (previously announced in July 2020)
  2. Bachelor of Mechatronics Engineering (Honours) /Bachelor of Business
  3. Bachelor of Mechatronics Engineering (Honours)/Bachelor of Science

Note: The Bachelor of Mechatronics Engineering (Honours), the Bachelor of Science and the Bachelor of Business will all continue.

Postgraduate degree programs proposed for suspension in 2021:
  1. Master of Workplace Health and Safety
  2. Master of Health Science
  3. Master of Applied Management (Nursing)
  4. Graduate Certificate in Clinical Nursing
  5. Master of Family Studies
  6. Graduate Certificate in Family Studies
  7. Graduate Certificate in Creative Industries
  8. Graduate Certificate in Digital Media
  9. Master of Creative Industries
  10. Master of Digital Media
  11. Master of Professional Engineering (Chemical)
  12. Master of Professional Engineering (Environmental)
  13. Master of Professional Engineering (Geospatial Engineering and Surveying)
  14. Master of Professional Engineering (Mechatronics)
  15. Master of Professional Engineering (Computer Systems Engineering)
  16. Master of Professional Engineering (Software Engineering)
  17. Master of Studies
  18. Graduate Certificate of Studies
  19. Master of Environment and Business Management

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