Massey University has announced a new strategy to help future-proof its academic offering and programme delivery. Called Digital Plus, the initiative will allow the University to better align its research and teaching expertise by creating greater critical mass in areas of research excellence.
Massey has experienced rapid growth across its three campuses in Manawatū, Auckland and Wellington over the past few decades, leading to duplication of infrastructure and its academic offering. Digital Plus will lead to the coordinated consolidation of Massey’s academic offering, paired with an acceleration of world-class online teaching and learning.
Massey University Provost Giselle Byrnes said Digital Plus represents an ambitious step-change in the way the University operates.
“This is about Massey University future-proofing itself as an organisation,” Professor Byrnes said. “We need to ensure our academic offering is future-focused, sustainable and making the most efficient use of precious publicly funded resources.
“Most students, whether school leavers or mature students, now opt to study in blended and flexible mode. Domestic students can no longer be defined as being ‘on campus’ or ‘online’. These distinctions are becoming increasingly blurred as students choose a more flexible approach to their learning.
“We believe that digitally enhanced and digitally mediated learning platforms can deliver flexibility and enhance more personalised learning. And we believe that students deserve and expect to have excellent and equivalent learning experiences, regardless of where they are located and whatever medium they choose to study through.”
Since 2016, Massey’s senior leadership team, along with an Academic Profile Taskforce comprised of senior staff from the University’s five colleges, has been developing principles for creating a cohesive and highly planned academic offering for Massey University.
“All our decisions will be evidence-based and made according to agreed policies and procedures. We want to ensure our decision making is consistent, strategic and focused on what is best for the future of Massey University,” Professor Byrnes said.
“Any changes affecting staff will go through a proper proposal for change consultation process. Until that process takes place, the University will not be in a position to know if, or how many, jobs will be lost as some staff may move into different roles.”
Under Digital Plus, Massey plans to remove duplication of its face-to-face offerings across more than one campus, aside from where demand and infrastructure investment warrant it. There will be one anchor campus for each subject where the subject will be taught face-to-face, plus a world-class digital online offering. Academic staff who teach that subject will generally be located on the same campus.
“Massey’s academic offering is more diverse than other universities, but this breadth does not result in greater enrolments and risks leading to unclear study pathways for students,” Professor Byrnes said.
“Our enrolment data shows an unbalanced relationship between what is offered and what students want. As an example, 60 per cent of our students are enrolled in just 13 qualifications, while 55 per cent of qualifications offered attract only five per cent of students. It is resource-intensive to maintain so many discrete qualifications and specialisations.”
Professor Byrnes said a greater focus on fewer qualifications would allow significant additional resources to be allocated to fund further digital investment, research activities, enterprise and commercialisation of research, and enable Massey to offer a student-centred learning experience with innovative pedagogies and teaching activities.