New Adelaide University to have eight deputy vice chancellors

The new Adelaide University says its management structure will be more efficient, despite union concerns it will be “top-heavy”.

Jul 03, 2024, updated Jul 03, 2024
Leadership of the two merger universities appearing before a parliamentary inquiry in 2023. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Leadership of the two merger universities appearing before a parliamentary inquiry in 2023. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

In an email sent to staff at the University of Adelaide and UniSA last week, university integration executive director Bruce Lines said an “internal Expression of Interest (EOI)” process was underway for eight deputy vice chancellor (DVC) positions.

The announcement comes ahead of the new Adelaide University launching its new brand on July 15 ahead of officially opening in January 2026.

The eight DVC portfolios in the newly merged university will be:

  • Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic
  • Deputy Vice Chancellor Corporate
  • Deputy Vice Chancellor External Engagement
  • Deputy Vice Chancellor Indigenous
  • Deputy Vice Chancellor Research & Innovation
  • Deputy Vice Chancellor People & Culture
  • Deputy Vice Chancellor Student Experience and Success
  • Provost & Deputy Vice Chancellor.

The DVCs would initially work under Adelaide University co-vice chancellors Professor David Lloyd and Professor Peter Høj until a permanent vice chancellor is appointed.

A spokesperson for Adelaide University said DVC is a “common title in the higher education sector” that signals an executive position that is a “direct report to the vice chancellor”.

“In practice, many other senior executive titles are also employed, such as Executive Director, Executive Dean and Chief Operating Officer, who can also be direct reports to the Vice Chancellor,” the spokesperson said.

“We proposed eight DVC titles to simplify the nomenclature.”

Deputy vice chancellors University of Adelaide

The executive leadership structure proposed in a staff discussion paper. Image: Adelaide University

The University of Adelaide currently has three DVCs while UniSA has one, according to the governance structure pages of both universities.

But the spokesperson said having eight DVCs would be a “more efficient structure going forward” because there are currently more than eight senior executives reporting to the respective vice chancellors of the University of Adelaide and UniSA.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) SA division secretary Dr Andrew Miller, whose union represents staff at both merger universities, raised concerns the new structure may be “a bit top heavy”.

“It might be overinflation… and one of the bigger critiques we have of the merger university is that it once again interjects potentially more managerial personnel,” he said.

“And we think that drift towards more corporate structures and more high-level managers is actually counter to traditional university governance… and quality.”

Miller has previously said that competition for spots at the new university has been akin to a “Game of Thrones” culture.

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The recruitment process for the eight DVC positions will be managed by executive search firm Boyden Australia.

Any staff member at the two universities is eligible to apply, Lines told staff, with appointments expected to be confirmed by September 2024.

“Our two universities possess an abundance of talent,” he said.

“In the first instance, the aim is therefore to fill the roles via the internal EOI process.

“Should there be instances where positions are not filled through the EOI process, an external recruitment process will be initiated.”

The external recruitment process, Lines said, would be overseen by a selection panel consisting of the co-vice chancellors and three independent members. One of the independent members will chair the panel.

Lines also emphasised in bold writing that recruitment via EOI “is not anticipated… [to] be the approach through which the majority of staff will take up positions in the new Adelaide University organisational structure”.

Meanwhile, the number of pro vice chancellors (PVCs) who will work under the DVCs is yet to be finalised, the university spokesperson said.

Pro vice chancellors

The design and roles of the college pro vice chancellors floated in Adelaide University’s discussion paper. Image: Adelaide University

A staff discussion paper released in April floated six colleges – Health, Society, Creative Arts & Humanities, Science, Engineering & IT, Business & Law – at the new Adelaide University, with each led by a PVC.

But PVC positions have also been floated for domains like research, education technology, online education, and “international and partnerships”. At least 10 PVC positions are referenced in the discussion paper.

“The number of Pro Vice Chancellor roles is yet to be fully determined, but, please note, these roles are not as senior as the DVCs and do not usually report to the Vice Chancellor,” the spokesperson said.

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