Course changes as RMIT struggles to plug gaps
August 15, 2011 · Print This Article
By Marissa Shirbin
Flagship RMIT courses are undergoing change as the university copes with dwindling international student numbers and inadequate government funding.
RMIT University’s Dean of the School of Media and Communication said institutions are constantly trying to find ways to save money.
“There was Christmas Eve 1997, or near, as…the Howard government cut a large percentage of Commonwealth support that went per head per student. Or at least that was how it was represented. It was huge.
“Ever since that kind of decision started being made we have looked at how else we can plug the gaps to maintain and grow quality,” Professor Stephanie Donald said.
Professor Donald said recovery from concerns about international student safety, university development elsewhere and a strengthening dollar have all had an impact.
“So there’s many reasons why we are actually being hit quite badly, and not just RMIT but the whole sector, by international enrollments because we have sort of relied on them,” she said.
In an effort to streamline its budgets, RMIT University is gradually overhauling some of its specialist courses.
The university’s prestigious journalism course, which attracts the highest number of applicants for its intake and has long been known as the “jewel in the university’s crown,” is making changes in order to contribute more to the institution.
Changes to RMIT’s boutique journalism course include:
- Over the past five years first year enrollments have increased from 45 to 62.
- In 2006, course sizes for the full-fee paying post graduate version of the course were closed at 23 students. In 2011, 32 enrolled.
- Five self-nominated teacher redundancies were made this year in the communications department.
- From 2012, production of live-to-air programs will be removed from radio and television courses for second year students.
The changes come at a time when the journalism industry says now, more than ever, media practitioners need first-rate training.
“Resources are dwindling at any news publication so most journos have to work unilaterally. From sourcing your story, to producing it online and for radio. It’s extremely competitive,” said Daniel Phan, RMIT alumni and 2011 Walkley Young Australian Journalist of the Year finalist.
Earlier this year, more drastic changes were made to RMIT’s Bachelor of Business in Entrepreneurship to provide a more common course structure.
Students will now undertake eight core business subjects and two electives instead of its present structure which has 14 subject specific to the field of entrepreneurship.
The School of Business is currently engaging in a consultation period before change are implemented in 2012.
Timeline: Professor Stephanie Donald, Dean, RMIT School of Media and Communication identifies some contributing factors to the push and pull for 21st century universities.