Learning and Teaching Investment Fund 2011

Summary of projects

Project title

Towards a Tertiary Environment: GSSS&P Dual Sector Integration Project.

Project leaders

David McElgunn

Project team

  • Jennifer Brooker
  • Martyn Jones
  • Anthony Graham
  • Alan Ogilvie
  • Irene Pagliarella
  • Ian Thomas
  • Chris Ziguras
  • Sedat Mulayim
  • Guosheng Chen

Project summary

The 2011 LTIF project was the next step in the development the School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning (GSSS&P’s) progress towards a fully integrated tertiary School.

For many years GSSS&P had operated with a clear distinction between the sectors. In recent years however the School made a conscious effort to transform the operations and where possible, the activity into a fully integrated model where Vet and HE are managed under the one combined model. This project was the next step forward by finalising the integration of HE and VET staff into dual sector teams.

While the integration was achieved to some extent, full integration is not yet possible due to the varying funding, reporting and compliance models that still differentiate the sectors. The key outcomes to this point are that 3 of the 4 VET teams are now teamed with HE disciplines resulting in integrated dual sector tertiary teams.

The aim of the project was to unpack what a ‘tertiary environment’ meant for this School and what were the barriers and opportunities for programs, staff and students. The results of the project were significant for GSSS&P. The knowledge gained is highly relevant to other Schools and Colleges and can be a guide for others contemplating similar models.

The success, or failure, of integration is undoubtedly ‘culture’. This is made up of language, attitudes and relationships which determine how staff and teams interact with each other and how they relate their work with the broader objectives of the School. How these relationships and attitudes are developed and maintained is the key to encouraging integration of the sectors and while some people disagree with this pollination, it is the focus on individual motivation which ultimately brings about successful partnerships between the sectors. In any discussion held, the focal point must be on the student, the link that can bring all staff together. It is the focus on student outcomes that can be the driver to integrated models that enhance the experience of students, staff and the industries that our students ultimately end up in.


The following is a list of the intended outcomes. Included is a brief summary of whether this was achieved and if not the reasons and barriers to achieving this.

  • Four fully integrated Tertiary teams by 1 January 2012 – This outcome was achieved in part with three of the four VET teams in the School now merged into single dual sector teams. The exception was Community Services. While it was possible to merge this team, there was contention over which HE team it was best suited to merge with. While the other three VET teams are discipline specific, Community Services is not and consists of multiple disciplines (e.g. aged care, disability, youth work, Community Education etc). It was troublesome to determine how a multidiscipline group could be merged with any single discipline as the linkages and overlap are present multiple HE disciplines. The size of this team (15) also made it prohibitive for slotting it into a HE grouping.
  • Host an RMIT Tertiary Environment Forum to bring together all Colleges in the University to discuss, report-on and debate the tertiary landscape at RMIT University.- This was a very successful outcome with the School hosting a University wide one-day forum in September 2011. This brought together academics, teachers and leaders from across the University who contributed to the discussions on what ‘tertiary’ means to them. Professor Dale Murphy from Swinburne and Associate Professor Peter Mathews from the University of Ballarat presented on their Dual Sector Cohesion Project
  • The project aims for an inclusive model where the opportunities for VET and HE programs and teams come together – The convergence of tertiary teams resulting from the project highlighted that progress needs to be subtle and not forced upon participants. The outcome is that the School will progress its tertiary future by identifying champions and areas of best practise to work with to progress the model. Forced change and seeping policy shifts will likely damage progress but there is enough good will and positive culture to support special projects that further develop this space. By focussing on individual projects progress will be initially small but as success widens others will see the benefits of these models and eventually come onboard.

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