Higher Education Shared Governance Data Requirement #1: Analyzing Workload Profiles

Higher Education Shared Governance Data Requirement #1: Analyzing Workload Profiles

I recently interviewed around 50 individuals at several higher education institutions across Australia to better understand what academics and administrators really need to support both their day-to-day as well as big picture decision making. I learned that academics want to be involved in the financial management of their institutions to ensure they are sustainable. This week Michelle Brooke joins me as we commence our 11-part series to explore each of the 11 requirements we uncovered starting with the first: Analyzing Workload Profiles.

Academics today are more aware of their workload ‘profile’ than ever before as many universities increasingly lean towards individual workload profiles rather than a school or university-wide standard.

When Pilbara starting modelling universities over a decade ago, the standard was very much 40/40/20, whereas today many profiles are built from the bottom up and vary greatly depending on research load (in particular externally funded research) and Higher Degree Research supervision requirements (with many universities now including this under their ‘research’ split rather than their ‘teaching’ split).

In some universities, Faculty are able to negotiate their individual workload profile, whereas others may be bound by specific teaching workload requirements as outlined in their respective Enterprise Agreements.

Regardless of whether these profiles are set at a university, faculty/college, school or discipline level, it may be hard to recognise the impact of those profiles on the relationship between, and cost of, teaching and research.  Rarely does a Dean or Head of School have the ability to produce data-supported evidence regarding the total level of teaching effort required by the school and compare that to available teaching effort.

The Pilbara model can provide evidence to support schools and disciplines that are under-resourced and thus having to reduce their discretionary research load to conduct the ‘must do’ teaching workload.  For example, in the dashboard below, the overall academic hours required (delivered) for the Faculty of Computing, Health and Science sits close to the hours supplied (actually paid), at a ratio of 93% capacity.

However, at the school level, there are some schools working well over capacity, i.e. Computer Science: (123%)

Whilst others, i.e. Exercise and Health Sciences, are working well under their capacity (70%):

The model can assist Deans and Heads of Schools to better understand workload profiles within their faculty and where actual resourcing pain-points are occurring.

Further breakdown of the academic hours is also available, firstly breaking down the delivered hours into Contact Hours, Preparation Hours, Student Hours (marking and assessment etc), and Coordination Hours, and then secondly, breaking the Contact Hours down into class type, for example:

  • Lecture hours
  • Lab Hours
  • Seminar Hours
  • Tutorial Hours etc.

This breakdown can be shown at the Course instance level.  Course instance is defined as where, when and how an individual course is taught, so a course taught in semester 1 is a different instance to the same course taught in semester 2.