Academic Dream, Administrative Nightmare Challenge
Tony Heywood Veronica Nolan
Faculty Manager Team Leader, Student and Course Support
Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health
University of Technology, Sydney University of Technology, Sydney
This paper will describe the transformation of the Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health at the University of
The former Faculty of Nursing was in an uncertain state in the mid 90s. The situation was characterised by
reducing student intakes, financial difficulties and a „managing change‟ process that had substantially reduced
staff numbers. In 1997 the Faculty launched into a dramatic repositioning that included the renaming of the
Faculty, strengthening links with industry partners, a major overhaul of the content, structure and focus of
courses and a broad marketing strategy. The result of this repositioning has been an increase in student demand,
excellent industry partnerships, a strong reputation and a critical mass of achievements.
This paper will cover the major elements of the transformation process and in particular, will examine the
increased involvement of administrative staff in what had traditionally been academic tasks. The increased
administrative load and complexity arising from the course redesign, the impact of unforeseen costs and
subsequent management issues will also be addressed.
History and the Context of the Problem
Nursing is a relatively new discipline to the tertiary sector, with education for Registered Nurses previously
being in hospital-based programs. Although initially mooted in 1912 in the Australian Nurses‟ Journal, the
move from hospital-based to tertiary-based initial nurse education was not complete in Australia until 1990. In
NSW, there were two pilot Diploma programs that commenced in the late 1970s/early 1980s at Cumberland
College and the Riverina CAE. In November 1983, the New South Wales State Government announced that it
would move initial nursing education totally to the tertiary sector by Autumn Semester 1985. The new nursing
programs were predominantly located in Colleges of Advanced Education as this was seen as the most
appropriate at the time of the binary divide. Part of the philosophy of the tertiary move was to provide curricula
that were comprehensive in nature, encompassing the three areas that had previously been separate in hospital
training – psychiatric nursing, developmental disability and general nursing. The new courses would allow
graduates to have been educated and be able to work in all three areas. It should be noted that resistance to the
move to the tertiary sector from within the health sector was strong and has had a continuing presence.
The Faculty of Nursing at UTS was created out of two Schools of Nursing from NSWIT and the Kuring-gai
CAE as part of the Dawkins‟ Reforms in 1990/91. The two schools operated under different philosophies, with
the NSWIT school having a skills focus (clinical, nursing skills and science) whereas the KCAE school had a
humanities orientation (ethics, literature and liberal arts). These two groups continued to operate on separate
locations, with only a small amount of staff movement between the two groups.
The introduction of a combined Bachelor of Nursing degree from 1993 was a key initiative in integration of the
two groups. A joint curriculum was developed and the Diploma in Nursing qualification phased out, achieving a
key milestone in both staff integration and also in raising the status of nursing as a profession. The
consolidation of the whole Faculty to the Kuring-gai Campus in 1996 was a further milestone in Faculty
amalgamation with a key driver being to build the two units into a Faculty.
Concurrent with these internal developments, the external environment was starting to have significant impacts
upon nursing across the country. As part of the package to move nursing education to universities, the State
Government agreed to cover the HECS payments for nursing students for several years for the initial nursing
qualifications (mainly Diplomas at that stage). The „HECS-free‟ period expired at the end of 1993 and a
statewide dramatic fall in applications for nursing occurred almost directly afterwards. (Refer to Figures 1 and 2
below for details). Tension rose with advocates of the old hospital-training system and some tertiary sector
sources questioning the existence of nursing as a discipline within universities.
Figure 1: FACULTY OF NURSING, MIDWIFERY AND HEALTH
EFTSU BY CATEGORY
800 UG HECS
Yr. 1992 Yr. 1993 Yr. 1994 Yr. 1995 Yr. 1996 Yr. 1997
Figure 2: FACULTY OF NURSING, MIDWIFERY AND HEALTH
UAC PREFERENCES FOR UNDERGRADUATE COURSES
1000 BN First prefs
BN All Prefs
BN/BA First prefs
BN/BA All prefs
Yr. 1995 Yr. 1996 Yr. 1997
The Faculty‟s situation presented a critical decision point. Either significant action was required to address the
problems and to set the Faculty back on a sustainable footing or the University could elect to cut its losses and
close the Faculty. The UTS senior management was committed to the existence of nursing within its discipline
mix. The following 12 months produced three significant drivers that influenced the context for change.
Three Drivers for Change
1. The „Managing Change‟ Process
A reduction in income as a direct result of the problems with enrolment numbers coupled with Enterprise
Bargaining salary increases on a staffing load that was no longer sustainable lead to inevitable budget
difficulties. In 1995, the Faculty attempted to reduce its expenditure by rationalising the number of hours of
face-to-face teaching in its postgraduate programs from 35 to 24 and increasing the hours of teaching and
clinical facilitation done by academic staff. In 1996, it became clear that the drop in numbers was not a one-off
anomaly and that the measures previously taken would not be sufficient to resolve the problem. The Faculty
became the first in UTS to undergo the full „managing change‟ process to reduce its staffing numbers. The
number of staff that took voluntary separation was 6.6 EFT out of an academic staff of 34.3 EFT (a 19.25%
reduction), with not necessarily the „right‟ people taking these packages.
In 1997, there was a restructure of support staff with some new positions created at higher levels and other
positions removed. Positions were spilled and staff applied for the new positions, with redundancies given to
those who were unsuccessful. Following this process, the support staff profile was reduced from 19.4 EFT to
17.5 EFT (a 9.75% reduction). Following a further „tweaking‟ in 1999, there was a further reduction of 0.3 EFT,
making a total of a 13.5% reduction in support staff.
Although the raw numbers of positions that were removed from the Faculty were a critical component of
addressing the financial state of the Faculty, a more significant change occurred in the reconceptualisation of
the roles played in relation to administrative duties, with academic staff relinquishing a number of
administrative roles that were then taken on by support staff. Further details of these changes appear later.
2. The Faculty Developmental Review
UTS used to undertake a process of external review of faculties and in Autumn Semester 1997, the Faculty of
Nursing had its Review. Thirty-three recommendations were produced covering structure, decision-making,
strategic planning, curriculum, research, industry and location. The most critical of these were:
To move to a structure with a Dean, an Associate Dean (Teaching & Learning), an Associate Dean
(Research and External Relations) and a Faculty Manager with responsibility for all administrative staff
To look strategically at the Faculty strengths and relationships with industry and to focus a marketing
effort on these issues
To review the curricula for Faculty courses, in particular their conceptual framework
3. A New Faculty Management Team
The incumbent Dean resigned in December 1996, with the new Dean taking office on 1 July 1997. A new
Faculty Manager commenced in October 1997 and the a new Associate Dean (Teaching & Learning) in July
1998 - the Associate Dean (Research & External Relations) had previously been an Associate Dean in the old
structure. This core of staff developed the vision to weave together a package of initiatives that would have the
cumulative effect of turning the Faculty around in terms of reputation, enrolments and financially. This dream
included a new concept for clinical education, a student-centred philosophy, redefining staff structures and
roles, overhauling the Faculty image, and strong industry links.
The key academic dream related to reconceptualising the way clinical education occurred in the Bachelor of
Nursing. The whole curriculum was overhauled, linking clinical experience to theory within subjects in totally
novel ways. Additionally, clinical placements were changed from the historic model where students were
allocated in groups of about eight to a Clinical Facilitator (a Registered Nurse) and then attended a health
facility. Often these placements did not commence until late in the first year or possibly the second year of the
course. The most significant change came in the third year, with the creation of Clinical Nursing Development
Units (CNDUs) that would replace Clinical Facilitators. These thoughts were combined with elements taken
from the thesis just completed by the new Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) including a proposal for
sub-majors in the degree.
A curriculum committee oversaw extensive involvement of clinicians in the course development and a greater
amount of clinical experience in the program. This started to address the ever-present calls from the industry
that the university-based courses were too theoretical and that there should be a return to the old system. The
change to the way that clinical experience is gained has dampened these calls as the value of the new model has
been appreciated. Several workshops and retreats were arranged to prepare staff to teach in a totally new
conceptual model. The Associate Dean headed up a rigorous process to select CNDUs, involving much travel to
hospitals and meetings with Directors of Nursing and ward staff. The first intake into the new course
commenced in Autumn 2000.
By becoming student-centred, the crux was to place primacy on the student experience. Initially this required
refurbishments, as the Faculty was a closed, unwelcoming, unapproachable space. The Student Office had a
high, inaccessible counter and was infrequently staffed. The Dean‟s Office bore a sign that advised that students
were not allowed. Staff offices had closed doors and screened windows. Refurbishment opened up the spaces,
removed film from windows and relocated staff into the teams developed in the new administrative structure. A
“Policy on Staff and Student Accountability” was developed to state clearly the expectations for both parties in
the academic context, and included items such as turnaround times for assignments and availability for
consultation. BN tutorial groups were asked to nominate two student representatives each and meetings with
these reps are now held each semester to seek feedback on everything that is good and bad with the course. The
Dean, Associate Dean, Faculty Manager, Director of Studies (UG) and the Team Leader (S&CS) all attend
these meetings, with reporting back on progress relating to issues from the last meeting.
Concurrent with the Faculty‟s efforts to reinvent itself, UTS had undertaken a market research project to
determine how the University was perceived by its target markets. This project also included recommendations
for a „new image‟ for advertisements, brochures and other marketing output. At this time, the Faculty changed
its name from the Faculty of Nursing to the Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health. This move was designed
to position the Faculty in particular by keeping abreast of international developments and naming midwifery in
its title, but also to lay claim to the area of health, which was foreseen as an area of future development and
opportunity. It is interesting to note that many of the other programs in Australia have now moved to include
„midwifery‟ in the names of their faculties, schools or programs and that in NSW the government Office of the
Chief Nursing Officer has been renamed the Nursing and Midwifery Office. The new Faculty of Nursing,
Midwifery and Health was a pilot Faculty for the development of the new range of brochures and
enthusiastically committed a comparatively substantial marketing budget to relaunch itself in 1999, 2000 and
The Faculty had its strongest links with two Area Health Services in Sydney (Northern and South East) and the
plan was to further develop these links. The involvement of staff in the curriculum review was an element of
linkage at clinician level and numerous organisational, clinical and partnerships were entered into to develop at
the senior level. One of the most public expressions of the relationship is the sponsored Clinical Chairs. These
are jointly appointed positions funded by the Health Service and located within the health facility. The vision
was that the Health Service would provide all costs for salary and on-costs, car, phone, a primary office,
administrative support and research assistance. The Faculty would provide a University position, a shared office
in the Faculty, laptop and access to University research/conference funding opportunities. Two positions existed
at the time and this has now extended to eight positions, four with South East Health, two with Northern Sydney
Health, one with Corrections Health, and one with Western Sydney Health.
Over 1997 and 1998, the administrative staff structure evolved into a new model that focussed on removing
academics from administrative duties. Key elements of this will be detailed below, however the focus was on
academic decisions to be made and formalised, then implemented on an on-going basis by administrators.
Postgraduate courses were also reviewed and rationalised. Intensive mode offerings were introduced, numbers
of subjects offered were slashed and courses combined into generic Masters with specialty majors. An
additional dream was to introduce Professional Doctorates, including the world‟s first Doctor of Midwifery.
These Prof Docs had their first intake in 1999, coinciding with the Faculty name change.
Detail –Changes in Structure of the BN program
The revision of the BN program aimed to distinguish the UTS Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health for its
innovations in clinically relevant educational programs developed in partnership with the health care sector.
Clinical practice was written into subjects linking both theory and practice whereas previously the clinical
practice was run as a separate subject. This resulted in the learning combined more closely with practice
cementing the focus on clinical learning.
Clinical practice was introduced to students in the third week of their first semester in the course. This was
brought about by student feedback saying their interest was to be out in the hospitals and seeing nursing in
action rather than theorising about it. There was also another benefit to this change, the students who were not
sure about nursing were able decide early on whether it was a career they wanted to pursue. If they realised that
they had made the wrong decision they were able to withdraw from the course without financial penalty and
without wasting time in a degree they did not want.
The Faculty designed and implemented an accelerated program for Enrolled Nurses and a Graduate Entry
program for students with a Bachelors degree in another discipline. This is an adapted version of the three-year
BN completed over two calendar years. The first year of the program includes a number of different subjects
than the standard second year and two subjects completed in summer school. Accelerated program students then
join the standard third year cohort for the final year. Graduate Entry students complete an intensive pre-
semester school in February covering basic nursing theory and practice.
One of the most significant changes in the BN course is the inclusion of a „clinical year‟ in the final phase of the
program. The majority of student learning takes place in the clinical setting (5 days per fortnight). During this
time, assessment tasks are focused on authentic workplace practices. Students spend three “intensive weeks” per
semester in classes plus one day per week for most of the semester. The dream was for „Clinical Schools‟ to be
developed on-site at two or three hospitals, where all classes would be held. Removing the need for students to
attend UTS at all in their third year for classes. (Note that the Clinical Schools have not yet been implemented).
The clinical ladder shows the attendance pattern:
Nursing Practice Clinical Ladder
Week Month Type of Clinical 3rd year (8hr days)
Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri
10 March On-Campus intensive week
11 Med/Surg Prac Clinical Clinical Study day
12 Med/Surg Prac Clinical Clinical Clinical Study day
13 Med/Surg Prac Clinical Clinical Study day
14 Med/Surg Prac Clinical Clinical Clinical Study day
15 April Med/Surg Prac Clinical Clinical Study day
16 No Classes
17 On-Campus intensive week
18 Sub-major prac Clinical Clinical Study day
19 May Sub-major prac Clinical Clinical Clinical Study day
20 Sub-major prac Clinical Clinical Study day
21 Sub-major prac Clinical Clinical Clinical Study day
22 Sub-major prac Clinical Clinical Study day
23 Sub-major prac Clinical Clinical Clinical Study day
24 June On-Campus intensive week
Nursing Practice Clinical Ladder
Week Month 3rd year (8hr days)
Type of Clinical Practice Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri
32 Aug On-Campus intensive week
33 Sub-major prac Clinical Clinical Clinical Clinical Clinical
34 Sub-major prac Clinical Clinical Clinical Clinical Clinical
35 Sub-major prac Clinical Clinical Clinical Clinical Clinical
36 Sub-major prac Study day
37 Sep Sub-major prac Study day
38 Sub-major prac Study day
39 On-Campus intensive week
40 No classes
41 Oct Elective prac Clinical Clinical Study day
42 Elective prac Clinical Clinical Clinical Study day
43 Elective prac Clinical Clinical Study day
44 Elective prac Clinical Clinical Clinical Study day
45 Nov Elective prac Clinical Clinical Study day
46 On-Campus intensive week
Students also focus their study during this final phase of the program so that they graduate with a clinical sub-
major in one of adult medical-surgical nursing, paediatric nursing or mental health nursing. In addition to the
sub-major, students choose an elective in a specialty nursing area. (E.g. critical care, community, maternal and
infant care, mental health, operating theatre, paediatrics, palliative care or women‟s health.)
Clinical Nursing Development Units (CNDUs)
The majority of the clinical experience in third year is undertaken in Clinical Nursing Development Units
(CNDUs) in the health facilities. The CNDU is typically a ward within a hospital where all of the staff of the
ward are involved in the supervision and education of the UTS student. The students are rostered on to standard
nursing shifts and operate in essence as a member of the ward staff. Due to the extended nature of the
placement, stronger relationships with CNDU staff develop and the student has a more realistic experience with
what it means to be a nurse working on a ward.
This is a new design of learning support for clinical experience and is not based on traditional models of clinical
facilitation, or on models such as mentorships or preceptorships. All of the existing models rely on one-to-one
relationships. The revised UTS Bachelor of Nursing is based on a collective model, whereby students are
situated in a CNDU for extended periods of time in a stable clinical setting, While nursing staff on these units
collectively support student learning, it is the whole environment that promotes and enhances clinical learning,
not simply for undergraduate students but for all clinical staff. The function of the staff in the CNDUs was act
as role models, support for the student‟s learning, as resources or guides and to assess the students according to
the guidelines set by the university.
The dream was that CNDUs would also benefit and that the new model would promote excellence in clinical
development and in clinical nursing practice. Being affiliated with the University as a clinical learning
environment was seen as a selling point in the recruitment of staff and would promote stability in staffing. The
Faculty would provide support to the unit of $40 per student per week, instead of engaging Clinical Facilitators
who are UTS casual staff.
The University provides the CNDUs an Academic Liaison Person (ALP) who are Faculty academic staff. The
aim was for the ALP to provide support to the student, prepare and support the CNDU staff and act as an
education resource and liaison person between the Faculty and the CNDU.
Detail – Administrative Role Changes
As part of the 1997 Developmental Review for the Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health the administrative
structure was considered and then evolved until 1999. The Faculty Manager had responsibility for the business
management within the Faculty and was also responsible for all administrative staff, many of who previously
answered to academic positions.
OFFICE OF THE ASSOCIATE ASSOCIATE
DEAN DEAN DEAN
UG PROGRAMS & PG PROGRAMS
TECH SERVICES AND CPE
Executive Officer Admin Officer (x2) Admin Officer
Executive Assistant IT Tech Manager Admin Secretary
Technical Officer (x3) Technical Officer
Admin Assistant (x4) Admin Assistant
Data Operator Word Processor (0.6)
Word Processor (0.8)
STUDENT AND COURSE FACULTY OFFICE ADMINISTRATIVE
SUPPORT TEAM SERVICES TEAM
Team Leader Officer Executive Officer
Student Officer (PG) Computer Services Executive Assistant (0.8)
Student Officer (UG) Committee Officer (0.4)
Faculty Web Coord.
Student Officer (Clinical) (0.6) (0.2) Admin. Secretary. (0.8)
Student Officer (Clinical) (0.6) Receptionist/Admin Asst
Student Adviser (Clinical) PROFESSORIAL
RESEARCH UNITS Administrative Asst.
Research and Proj. Officer
Technical Officer Admin. Staff CENTRES x4
Student Adviser Research/Project Staff Admin Staff
(various) Research/Project Staff
Student Adviser (22.5hrs)
The Team Leader, Student and Course Support, was introduced to lead the newly created team of staff
responsible for all student administrative issues, course advice to current and prospective students, clinical
placements and the nursing practice laboratories. This position also took on some of the administrative work
previously taken on by academic staff including organising contracts for casual academic staff, permanent staff
teaching timetables, in conjunction with the Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning and the undergraduate
admissions process. Faculty policy guidelines approved by senior academic staff/committees became the
structure in which this position worked.
With the increasing load on permanent academic staff following the „managing change‟ process, the amount of
administrative work taken on by academic staff was reviewed. Before the new course, the clinical unit consisted
of a Clinical Co-ordinator (0.4 Academic Staff) and 1.6 EFT administrative staff. It was found that much of the
duties of the Clinical Co-ordinator were in fact administrative and this position was discontinued. There was,
however, still an academic role in ensuring the quality and academic integrity of the courses clinical practice
was maintained. Much of this role was dispersed to the subject examiners to ensure that contracted facilitators
were briefed and debriefed with each clinical practice, and to ensure that any issues on prac were reported to the
subject examiner to be followed up. In the case of negotiating placements with new facilities, a group of staff
including academic staff and administrators from the clinical unit are assembled.
Administrative staff have also taken on other tasks previously undertaken by academic staff, to differing
degrees. The provision of information to both current and prospective students has been channelled to the
Student Advisors to increase consistency in information provided and less confusion amongst the student
population. Difficult and more academic enquiries are then directed from the Student Advisors to the
appropriate Director of Studies.
Approval of student forms including; enrolment, subject variations, Leave of Absence requests and withdrawals
have been delegated to the Student Officers. The appropriate Director of Studies assesses non-standard or
unusual requests. These changes free up academic staff from administrative tasks and allow them to focus more
appropriately upon academic work.
Why an Administrative Challenge?
As the title of this paper suggests, the proposed changes resulted in significant benefits academically but also
significant challenges administratively. The structure of the new course brought with it increased complexity in
many areas, especially in timetabling of subjects and organisation of clinical placements.
The third year of the program changed the conventional attendance pattern of classes. The year is made up of
three intensive weeks per semester and weekly study days. As the attendance is irregular it has put a strain on
lecture and classroom space in the university as a one off lecture required for this new structure makes the
teaching space unusable during the semester for regular teaching at that time. The University has introduced
new timetabling software, Syllabus Plus, which does not cope well with the complexity of the program and
requires Faculty staff to manually control the timetable data, which is a laborious task.
The altered attendance pattern of clinical practice in the third year of the program has resulted in clinical
practices across the three years of the course clashing with each other. Previous to the change the clinical
practice in each year of the course was either day release or 5 day a week block mode and none of the practical
periods overlapped. The new course, with increased practical in the third year and a different attendance pattern,
meant that we had to manage overlapping clinical placements. To do this the Faculty needed to find more
placements and new health facilities, especially in the western suburbs of Sydney we an increasing number of
our students are coming from.
Third year students were given the opportunity to give a preference as to which hospitals/health facilities they
would like to attend for their clinical practice as many students would like to complete their prac in the place
they have an interest in future employment. This is an important part of our student focus but has lead to an
increased administrative workload. This extra burden proved to a huge drain on staff members in the clinical
unit, especially the Team Leader whose capacity to undertake the leadership role within the team was severely
reduced. The Faculty recently hired another staff member, part time (0.6 EFT), to take on the administration of
the third year, which was previously covered by the Team Leader and the other part time staff member in the
The student-centred philosophy has also led to additional administrative workload, for example allowing
students to choose a sub-major (when places available are limited by external factors) and by advising students
we will try to arrange clinical placements close to home for them. These are positive elements of the program
however there is significant work that goes into meeting these expectations, and/or dealing with issues that arise
when expectations are not or cannot be met.
Increase in costs that need to be contained while still meeting academic ideals is a challenge at the Faculty
Manager level. The Faculty needs to be financially prudent and not operate in debt, yet the dream is an
expensive one. The need to manage an effective marketing campaign also factors into the maintenance of
demand for course.
But the balance to this challenge has been acknowledgement of professional role of administrators and an
increased efficiency in the use of Faculty resources
Current Situation, Challenges and Lessons Learnt
The enrolment and application charts below clearly indicate the turnaround in Faculty student load.
Figure 3: FACULTY OF NURSING, MIDWIFERY AND HEALTH
EFTSU BY CATEGORY 1992 - 2003
800 UG HECS
Yr. 1992 Yr. 1993 Yr. 1994 Yr. 1995 Yr. 1996 Yr. 1997 Yr. 1998 Yr. 1999 Yr. 2000 Yr. 2001 Yr. 2002 Yr. 2003
Figure 4: FACULTY OF NURSING, MIDWIFERY AND HEALTH
UAC PREFERENCES FOR UNDERGRADUATE COURSES 1995 - 2003
BN First prefs
BN All Prefs
BN/BA First prefs
BN/BA All prefs
Yr. 1995 Yr. 1996 Yr. 1997 Yr. 1998 Yr. 1999 Yr. 2000 Yr. 2001 Yr. 2002 Yr. 2003
The Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health is located at the Kuring-gai campus of UTS at Lindfield and had
traditionally run its courses from this campus. In 2001 there was an intake of students into the UTS city campus,
to boost the Faculty enrolled student load. This city cohort is much smaller, approximately 60 students per year,
and has no accelerated program intake. Note that City classes are only run in first and second year.
The vision initially seen for the Bachelor of Nursing has to some extent been bastardised in its implementation.
It has evolved as problems arose in its implementation, such as the need to introduce support facilitators that
had not been initially identified nor costed. The pressure on clinical placements provided by the nursing
workforce situation has meant that the plan to be highly selective about CNDUs has had to be loosened as
pragmatic need has overtaken academic dreams. The vision for the Clinical Nursing Development Units was to
have 22 wards where students would spend extended periods learning and consolidating their theory and
practice in readiness for becoming a registered nurse. The reality is different. With staff shortages in the wards
and agreements with other universities the Faculty now has 78 CNDUs and this number is increasing in line
with increasing student load. This has greatly increased the workload of the ALPs, with more wards to cover
over a greater physical distance. Time spent in cars is enormous and has reduced the ability to develop
professional relationships with CNDU staff. Some progress has been made in this area, such as academic staff
spending sabbatical leave working with CNDUs, but the hope is currently for the future to achieve the intended
results. The fragmentation of CNDUs has also increased the administrative workload and necessitated the
employment of an additional 0.6 EFT staff member in the Clinical Unit.
The intention was for the Academic Liaison Person (ALP) role to be filled by existing academic staff within the
faculty as part of their workload. This was possible for most health facilities but with increasing academic
workload over the years some ALPs needed to be recruited from the pool of facilitators, which resulted in extra
cost to the Faculty. These staff were also hired as support facilitators in the larger CNDUs also increasing the
costs. The need for support facilitation is expected to decline as the CNDUs become more accustomed to the
structure of the new program.
In respect to Faculty reputation, there appears to have been a significant turnaround. Feedback being received
from applicants indicates that recommendations from nurses within the system are strongly in our favour.
Clinicians appear to love us – mental health nursing had previous felt not well served by the comprehensive
curriculum, however they now see the sub-major as a means of redressing the problem. Clinicians provide
feedback on students as they pass through third year and enable easier identification of those with unsafe
practices. We can ensure they don‟t end up in the workforce either through appropriate re-education or failing
them from the course. Internally, BN students used to be scared in third year at the thought of moving to
practice. Now they are confident and more satisfied with the course although much more tired. Our Bachelor
graduates are returning for postgraduate studies in quantities never previously experienced. The Faculty is being
approached by hospitals to have our students come to them for clinical placements. The number of sponsored
Professors is now at six full Professors and two Associate Professors, with the prospect of further positions in
future. Staff are being contacted by industry publications to write opinion pieces and we are also experiencing
great success in editorial/stories in these publications about UTS NMH news and events.
As the method of facilitation had been changed from casual academic staff contacted by the university to staff
in the CNDUs overseeing the students, the Faculty decided to redirect the funds previously paid to the
facilitators into the CNDUs. Wards are paid $40 per student per week for the increased workload and the funds
were intended to be used as development funds for staff directly involved with the students. The issues arose
with other additional costs and also the impact of a significant increase in the number of students going into the
The establishment and maintenance of the new CNDUs is also an academic workload burden, with the new role
of the Academic Liaison Person being filled by current academic staff. The Faculty found that it was an
intensive and prolonged task to ensure that the transition for the health facilities to the new program was as
smooth as possible and successful for both them and the University.
Students choose a clinical elective from nine choices that run at the end of the third year of the program. The
clinical elective has not yet been fully established as CNDUs due to the number of different wards involved and
the focus on the sub-major for the first couple of years. Facilitators are contracted for much of the elective
placements, which has proved to be an expensive exercise. The Faculty is continually working towards a CNDU
environment to lower operating costs.
Financially, the costs for the changes have been significant. The initial estimates of costs for the new course
estimated ratios of students to facilitators that have not been able to be realised within the context of the nursing
workforce shortage. Health facilities are unable to take as many students as were planned, thus requiring greater
costs for Facilitators. The support facilitators are an additional cost that had not been anticipated. In response,
the Faculty has rethought the way it undertakes clinical in some subjects and also reduced hours required in
second year. The impact of Enterprise Bargaining increases is major - being a small Faculty, rises in staffing
costs impact dramatically upon the budget and the costs for clinical are a large component of the operating
budget. In 2003, it is expected that costs for clinical facilitators and CNDUs will account for approximately
18% of the operating budget.
Annual Operating Result
Thousands of dollars
-$100 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 Est
DEST National Review into Nursing Education was a positive step for the discipline, key findings of which
included a determination that nursing was appropriate for the university sector and should not return to hospital-
based training. Other parts of the report no doubt influenced elements of the Higher Education reforms
announced by Dr Brendan Nelson that offers some encouragement for the nursing faculties, pending their
passage through the Senate. With the designation of nursing as one of the National Priority areas, there is
potential to increase demand for courses. The package also includes a subsidy for clinical placements ($646 per
EFTSU, which covers about 50% of the direct costs, ignoring permanent staff employed in the Faculty). On
current enrolment numbers, this would provide approximately $450K extra to the Faculty. The possibility of
DEST replacing the 25,000 EFTSU of partially funded places with fully funded places also offers an
opportunity to nursing. DEST has indicated that these places would be targeted to areas of demonstrated need,
which it would be expected that being a National Priority area would be an easy argument to make. The
difficulty that would need to be overcome would be in relation to finding quality clinical placements to
accommodate the increased number of students, as well as balancing additional academic and administrative
staffing requirements to absorb the workload with the available funding that these students would generate.
The state of the nursing workforce in NSW will continue to be an external factor that impacts greatly upon
clinical education capacity within wards. A report on nursing supply and demand commissioned by the
Australian Council of Deans of Nursing found that there was a national shortage of nursing graduates of
approximately 3700 in 2002 and that this would grow to over 4000 by 2006, with half of the shortfall in NSW.
The ongoing prospect of workforce shortages is a reality that the Faculty will need to address and examine
options that may reduce impact upon clinical education requirements.
Within UTS, there is currently a debate about the future of the Kuring-gai Campus. This is the current location
of NMH and is a limiting factor on the enrolment numbers, as previously indicated. Recent political decisions
(2002) resulted in the campus not being given a railway station on the Parramatta to Chatswood rail link, a
factor that is likely to significantly impact on application numbers for courses based on the campus from 2008.
While no decision has been made as yet, UTS is lodging a rezoning application for the 22ha site on Sydney‟s
North Shore. The success or otherwise of this application will allow a full examination of the options available
for the Campus.
The discussion about the creation of Clinical Schools located on site at hospitals with the Faculty‟s key partners
is still on the agenda, and may be reactivated during 2004. This would result in the third-year Bachelor of
Nursing students undertaking the theoretical part of their degree at one of two or three hospital sites and not
require them to attend UTS for any classes. While this would overcome some administrative problems in
relation to timetabling, the liaison required to obtain dedicated space at these partner sites would be required
and may pose other problems in being isolated from the Faculty infrastructure.
With the continual pressure to generate external income, the Faculty is exploring the possibility for international
offshore courses. Being a small Faculty, there is both minimal financial depth for speculative ventures and a
small staffing base. These factors are drivers for caution as there is no room for undertaking ventures that will
not be profitable in the short-term or require a significant upfront staffing commitment without being self-
funded. In cautiously investigating the opportunities, the Faculty is mindful that nursing is often very context
and culturally specific, so there is a need to develop courses that are culturally appropriate for the target market.
In summary, the changes experienced have successfully transformed the Faculty and the future is immensely
brighter than that faced in the mid-1990s. The result for administrative staff has been a much clearer definition
as professionals with responsibility for the administrative processes of the Faculty. This shift has brought with it
the burden of accountability for decisions and outcomes in challenging areas, however is a positive result for
both academic and administrative staff. In a strategic sense, the Faculty is now capitalising on the momentum
that it has developed and investigating opportunities that were previously out of its ability to contemplate. The
scene appears set for a broad University restructure that will throw everything back into chaos……