What are we doing?

Project Metis is our shorthand for exploring a more flexible career framework for academic staff at RMIT.

Metis was a goddess of wisdom and the word is also a derivation of ancient greek for “mixture” or “hybrid”. What we want to investigate is a highly flexible way of ‘being’ an academic at RMIT. We recognise the need to respond to the macro trends and drivers in tertiary education by attracting, retaining and rewarding excellence in academic practice - whatever the specialisation - and by empowering RMIT business units to manage their own workforce design and build local capacity.

Currently there are two academic profiles and promotion pathways for RMIT academics - a research-focus and an integrated research and teaching focus. VCE has decided to broaden this out to a single flexible and highly customisable career profile that will accommodate all academic specialisations and activity. This pathway will recognise and support excellence in teaching practice and educational design as well as research, engagement, innovation and academic leadership.

RMIT recognises the interconnectedness of all educational practice in delivering a transformative student experience and impactful research outcomes and we want to accommodate and build on individual academic strengths and aspirations without limiting career progression.

We need to anticipate the career expectations of the next generation of academics and enable RMIT academics to compete equitably in the Australian and global tertiary marketplace. Metis will engage with you as we build the framework and move toward a more agile structure for our teachers and researchers.

Why are we doing this?

RMIT’s strategic plan to 2020 as delivered by our Vice Chancellor Martin Bean offers us all a crystal clear focus – we’re here to prepare our students for life and work in a world that is more complex and fast-changing than ever before. Like many universities world-wide RMIT is grappling with the global drivers of change in the higher education sector:

  • Industry expectations for work-ready graduates
  • High student expectations for programs and support services
  • Rapidly changing digital technology
  • Shifts to mass university provision and greater student diversity
  • Contestability of markets and funding, and
  • Competition for staff and students.

We have heard your feedback about your experience of being an academic at RMIT - including the limitations of academic progression structures, and the current Academic Expectations targets - these will be reviewed in the context of developing new benchmarks and frameworks for quality academic practice.

To enable RMIT to get ahead in this supremely competitive sector we can’t keep doing the same things in the same way we’ve always done them before. We must continue to renew our educational practice to be inspiring and future oriented.

Benefits

Delivery of the new single flexible pathway will bring significant benefits to both staff and the university;

  • RMITs Ready for Life and Work 2020 strategic priority of “learning through work and enterprise” will be enabled by building capacity and expertise in the specialisations of research, teaching, scholarship of teaching, partnership and engagement and academic management and leadership,
  • All academic activity can be acknowledged and supported in workplannning, workload allocation and development,
  • A broader range of individualised career pathways allows for a strategic focus on education as a sustainable academic career, including learning design and education program management, as well as teaching,
  • An extensive capability framework for academic practice will provide a link between RMIT strategic objectives, workforce planning and individual career and performance planning.

Key Questions

During the concept phase the project team will be seeking feedback from all academic staff into the new pathway that will be developed. Some of the key questions we will be seeking your input on include:

Big Questions

  • How do we accommodate different specialisations within a single academic pathway i.e. Education, Research, Engagement
  • How do we recognise management and leadership capabilities within the pathway?
  • Could industry specialists be outside the pathway classification altogether? (i.e. rework the Industry Fellow roles as contract Industry Specialists who added value to our learning and research outcomes but were not ‘teachers’ or ‘researchers’ per se?)
  • How will progression be evaluated within this new pathway?
  • Should there always be a minimum allocation of education/research activity for all staff?
  • Are specialized positions advertised and staff can apply?
  • Are staff moved into specialized roles the discretion of the university?
  • How is this tied back to workplanning and what is the responsibility of the manager?
  • Do we cap the % of staff in specialised roles?
  • Do we cap % of staff at each level?
  • Do we limit the time spent in a specialised role?