The University of Melbourne has begun an innovative program to revamp service and support activities and strengthen its position in an increasingly competitive international tertiary environment.

Speaking at a Town Hall meeting for staff today, Melbourne’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Glyn Davis emphasised the University’s recent successes and strong financial position but highlighted the dangers of complacency in an increasingly competitive and changing tertiary education landscape.

The program builds on the changes to the University operating model introduced in 2009 which devolved key financial responsibilities to faculties. Under the improved model, faculties will be able to achieve further gains from shared services. Once fully implemented, savings in the order of $70m per annum will be realised.

No academic programs will be affected and rather than being a simple cost-cutting exercise, savings will be reinvested in teaching, research and engagement. The improvements to systems and processes will also achieve a wide range of other benefits for students and staff

“We know universities both here and overseas are grappling with similar issues and a number of them are moving to implementing shared service models,” Professor Davis said.

“The University is driven by an ambition for excellence. We rate highly in many of the benchmarking studies of Australian university services, we have a strong base from which to build even better services for staff and students.”

Professor Davis said teams of University staff were working with leading international management consultants, Booz & Co., to design and implement the program.

Booz Chairman, Tim Jackson said, “We have extensive expertise in developing the capability of complex organisations, which we bring to this transformational project. We are pleased to be working with Australia’s leading university to help realise its goals.”

The business improvement program will be rolled out progressively over the next 18 months.