Sydney University reduce number of degrees from 122 to 20
1st April 2016
Sydney University has announced what it calls a “streamlining” of its current 122 degrees, cutting them down to about 20 across a number of faculties.
- University says new plan will better prepare students for the workplaces of the future
- The number of faculties would shrink from 16 to six
- Alongside faculties will be three standalone schools of architecture, law and music
- Brings university in line with Melbourne University model
Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence said the intention of their plan was to simplify the academic structure and have fewer faculties.
He also said it would better prepare students for the workplaces of the future.
While Sydney University admitted that it was a bold plan, it said it is about offering what it describes as a holistic learning environment for undergraduate students.
Some of the faculties where degrees will be cut are arts and social sciences, business, engineering, science, health, medicine, law, architecture and the Conservatorium of Music.
Dr Spence said that undergraduates need deep knowledge of one or two disciplines that is a good context for learning skills such as critical thinking, effective oral and written.
“But they also need employers to tell us sorts of general areas of expertise, they need to be able to take courses, whatever they’re studying, in things like ethics or data and digital literacy, or cultural competence or entrepreneurship,” he said.
“And in addition, they also need the possibility to engage in real-world problem solving.”
Overhaul designed to offer comprehensive courses
Dr Spence said the 166-year-old university wants to remove fragmentation, and that the number of faculties would shrink from 16 to six.
Alongside the faculties would be three standalone schools of architecture, law and music.
Dr Spence said their vision was to offer comprehensive courses for the future.
“What we did was start off by saying, ‘what will you need to work in the world of work in the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years? What kind of graduate qualities do we want to see in our graduates?’,” he said.
“And then ask ourselves the question, ‘well if you started with a blank sheet, what would our degree programs look like?'”
“And they’d have these three characteristics that I talked about: deep disciplinary expertise, the opportunity to acquire generic expertise in areas like cultural competence and ethics and data and digital literacy, the opportunity to engage in real-world and multi-disciplinary problem solving skills, encouragement to spend some time overseas.
“They’re the kinds of things that we think degrees of the future will look like, and so we set out to offer a suite of degrees that have those characteristics.”
Plan brings university into line with Melbourne model
Dr Spence played down the suggestion that the university was trying to overtake Melbourne University, where students choose from nine generalist undergraduate degrees before being given the option to progress to specialist honours or graduate degrees.
Dr Spence said that Sydney and Melbourne University were both highly globally ranked institutions and they were always looking for ways to improve what they do.
“The educational reforms are about making sure our degrees prepare students not just for the jobs they have when they graduate, but the ones after that, and the ones after that — ones that haven’t been invented yet in a very changing employment landscape,” Dr Spence said.
Starting next year, the university said it will also triple its research investment from $50 million to $150 million every year.
And the university will increase the number of students going on exchange overseas from 19 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020.
Dr Spence said the university would also introduce a new four-year Bachelor of Advanced Studies.
“There will be a three-year version of this program and a four-year version of this program,” he said.
“The three-year version will involve the normal BA, BComm, BSc — whatever it might be, though those programs are being adapted to meet the kind of structure that I’m talking about.
“Or you’ll be able to do a double degree, a BA Bachelor of Advanced Studies, a BSc Bachelor of Advanced Studies, a BComm Bachelor of Advanced Studies, because we think the four-year version of the program gives you a bit more space to do these things a bit more thoroughly.”