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Australian universities not quite making the grade

Pencils


7.3.2013

The Education industry involves arguably more competition than any other. Australian education Institutions today exist in an increasingly competitive marketplace both domestically and internationally. Institutions compete for the best staff and students, while applicants compete for places in the most highly recognised and preferred institutions. 
 
For universities, the battle to attract funding is stronger than ever and requires advanced levels of capability and skills. The release of the Bradley and Cutler Reviews combined with the significant changes to the Commonwealth Grants Scheme and introduction of demand-driven funding have shown that universities in Australia cannot assume that their survival is guaranteed in perpetuity. Universities in this environment need to maximise their strengths and position themselves around aspects for which they have gained, or can been seen to develop, a reputation for excellence. 
 
Now it is becoming increasingly important for institutions to create a strong brand identity for how they are to be perceived by potential students and employees alike.  Candidates will approach any engagement with an institution with their own preconceived ideas and opinions, and institutions should do their best to ensure the image is both positive and accurate.  
 
With the challenges faced by Australian universities to attract and retain the best and brightest, comes the realisation of an ever decreasing pool of talent from which to source staff. This is startlingly outlined from, among other recent research, a 2011 DEEWR Survey “The Australian Academic profession in transition” in which it was reported that half the academic workforce in Australia will retire, move overseas or leave the education sector within the next 10 years. 
 
The current government’s long-held desired requirement for increases in participation in higher education, particularly for students from financial or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds, has meant additional pressure is likely to be felt by Australian universities’ recruitment departments. Findings from the Group of Eight in 2010, calculated that assuming no change in staff/student ratios over the next 20 years, an additional 26,600 fulltime teaching staff will be required to meet the growth of the sector.
 
These factors will result in further angst felt by the various recruitment teams around the country. The projected need to fill current and future roles will occur during a determined growth in student numbers backed by government and, most alarmingly as highlighted in the recent DEEWR Report, at a time when many academics, who commenced work in the 1970’s, are reaching retirement age. 
 
Indeed, the impact of this can be seen in further research undertaken by the Group of Eight in which they calculate that an additional 16,400 full time teaching staff will be needed to replace those who will retire over the next 20 years. Add to that the additional full time staff needed to accommodate the desired increase in student participation, Australia’s universities are faced with the task of finding 40,000 extra staff by 2030. 
 
A review of tertiary teaching numbers from 1990 to 2006 provided by the Australian Census shows no change in the number of academic staff in the previous 16 years. This makes attracting and retaining the additional staff a significant undertaking. 
 
 
Table: Australia: Number of University Teaching Staff
 
Source: Australian Census

DEST Selected Higher Education Statistics
 
Source: DEST Selected Higher Education Statistics
                   
The ageing of the academic workforce is clearly apparent below when the age profile is compared to the age profile of the overall Australian workforce.DEEWR selected statistics 2008
Source: DEEWR selected statistics 2008 – Table: Academic staff by age group compared with other employed persons in Australia.
 
Australia’s universities will need to address several factors to ensure the successful recruitment and retention of the future academic workforce. 
 
In summary, these factors are:
 
1. An ageing workforce with many close to retirement
2. Excessive demands on staff time to meet the requirements of an increasingly managerialist workplace culture
3. Older, late career academics overloaded with administrative duties and younger, early career staff with few clear professional pathways
4. High levels of casualisation and low levels of job security
5. High and increasing workplace stress
6. Low levels of satisfaction with university management
 
Adcorp works with a number of Australia’s top universities to develop effective recruitment campaigns for staff and student attraction, engagement and retention.
 
Renowned for our experience in recruitment marketing, Adcorp has invested heavily in developing our digital capabilities to provide clients with the most innovative and appropriate employer branding opportunities.
 
Adcorp’s digital portfolio includes a diverse range of projects in Social Media strategy, Community Management and Monitoring for recruitment, targeted marketing campaigns and product research and development.
 
To discuss how Adcorp can help build your employer brand contact your local Adcorp office today.
 
James McCluskie, Account Director
 
Sources:
The Australian academic profession in transition 2011
DEEWR selected statistics 2008 – Table : Academic staff by age group compared with other employed persons in Australia.
DEST Selected Higher Education Statistics
Australian Census
 

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