Sunday, 27 September 2020

UTAS a law onto itself


As published in The Mercury 26th September 2020. It's an abridged re-write of the previous blog Where to UTAS?)

IF annual reports were marked like university assignments, the University of Tasmania’s latest effort would receive one out of 10.

UTAS reports on a calendar year basis. The Auditor General signed off the 2019 report in February. The Board (known as the Council) adopted the report in May and sent it to the government as required. The government released the report in late August, eight months after year’s end. Were it a listed company it would have been suspended.

Apart from the financials it’s a pretty skinny report. The overview for the year occupied only six pages. Even then it contained a cut and paste from a previous offering, a Strategic Plan dated July 2019. UTAS is “not long-term economically sustainable and being economically sustainable is no easy task … At an operating level, we break even. Still, there is no surplus to see our facilities renewed for the next generation.”

The brief review continued with a pastiche of proper nouns and acronyms which only an insider could possibly comprehend. Four paragraphs on risk management described how UTAS had worked collaboratively, reviewed, planned and implemented recommendations. Exactly what was implemented to address what risks wasn’t disclosed.

Essentially UTAS’s chosen transition to sustainability requires more students and that requires more student accommodation. Property development is now the tail wagging the education dog.