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Curtin University
Note to staff

8 May 2017


2017 budget position

The University reviews its financial position and expected financial outcomes at the end of each quarter.  The first quarter of each year is particularly important because it allows us to take stock of first semester enrolments and review our estimated tuition income for the remainder of the year.

While our latest enrolment figures are higher than last year, they are below budgeted levels.  Our student income for 2017 is estimated to be nearly $16 million lower than budget.

Given the importance of maintaining our strong financial position, savings are required across the University.  Accordingly, each Faculty and support area has been provided with savings targets that will be managed and communicated within those portfolios.

I recognise that many areas have already incorporated savings into their budgets for this year and the need to find additional savings will put even further pressure on the delivery of services.  However we believe these additional savings are a necessary measure to ensure the longer term financial sustainability of the University.

At the VC Forum on 17 May I will be speaking more about the University’s financial position, in addition to the implications of the higher education reform package, recently announced by Minister Birmingham. I look forward to seeing you all at the Forum, 12.30pm to 1.30pm in the Elizabeth Jolley Lecture Theatre.  A light lunch will be provided from 12pm.  However, if you are unable to attend in person, the Forum will be webcast live and also recorded.

Haydn Williams Fellowship public lecture

The annual Haydn Williams Fellowship public lecture was held last Thursday night. This year’s lecture was presented by Professor Brendan Murphy, Professor of Geology at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada.  Professor Murphy is a world leader in supercontinent and orogenic (mountain-forming) research, and his lecture – with the engaging and intriguing title of Why leprechauns know how mountains form – examined how mountains form in response to terrestrial factors.

Professor Murphy will be based at the Bentley campus until 11 May.  Please contact Jo Clements if you wish to meet with him.

Professor Brett Kirk, Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, and Professor Brendan Murphy at the lecture

Professor Brett Kirk, Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, and Professor Brendan Murphy at the lecture

Curtin students give Noongar FM first dedicated news service

I’m delighted to advise that Curtin journalism students are involved in an exciting project with Noongar Radio 100.9fm.  Newsspeak, the Curtin journalism club, has launched the very first dedicated news service for the radio station. Students are currently broadcasting news bulletins during the breakfast show, with the intention of expanding them into other programs throughout the day as more volunteers join the project. The project aims to generate a powerful and positive voice in the Aboriginal community and the Perth media landscape more broadly..  Well done to everyone involved.

Journalism student, Courtney Thornton with Noongar Radio volunteers

Journalism student, Courtney Thornton with Noongar Radio volunteers

Curtin professor receives ARC funding

Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage projects are now being awarded on a continuous basis. In the second announcement for 2017, Professor Ricardo Mancera from the Faculty of Health Sciences was awarded $592,514 in funding for the project: Advanced cryobanking for recalcitrant-seeded Australian rainforest plants. The project is in collaboration with Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, RMIT, UWA, ANSTO, United States Department of Agriculture and the University of South Dakota.

Congratulations Ricardo on this major new grant. Full results are listed on the ARC website.

Engineering Outreach students take part in FIRST international robotics competition

Engineering Outreach and the Curtin FIRST Robotics Team have recently returned from Houston, Texas where they competed against 401 other teams in the FIRST Robotics Team Championships.

The opportunity to compete in Houston was the result of a strong showing at the national competition in Sydney in March which saw the team, comprised of seven mentors and 11 high school students, awarded the Engineering Inspiration Award, recognising their efforts in inspiring others. The FIRST Robotics Competition is the flagship competition of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), and brings together high school students and mentors to build robots that perform in a competitive environment against teams from all over the world.

Well done to Gabrielle Migliore, Engineering Outreach Coordinator, and her team on their efforts.

Curtin FIRST Robotics students at the Houston event

Curtin FIRST Robotics students at the Houston event

 JDLC Board member awarded Gibb Maitland Medal

Congratulations to Dr Ian Tyler, John de Laeter Centre Board member, on being awarded the prestigious Gibb Maitland Medal. Dr Tyler received the award at a ceremony on April 26 in recognition of his substantial contribution to geoscience over the past 35 years.

Dr Tyler’s work has focussed on developing a coherent understanding of the State’s geology through careful and systematic field mapping, successfully integrated with multi-disciplinary studies. He is recognised nationally and internationally as one of Australia’s leading regional geologists.

Dr Ian Tyler with his Gibb Maitland Medal

Dr Ian Tyler with his Gibb Maitland Medal

Curtinnovation Awards

A reminder that applications for the 2017 Curtinnovation Awards (previously Curtin’s Commercial Innovation Awards) close Friday, 26 May. If you have research or an idea that has commercial potential, then consider applying. This is a unique opportunity for Curtin staff and students to turn their ideas into successful commercial products or services. You can find more information on the awards here.

Significant dates

  • Vesak Day or Buddha Day (10 May)
    Commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha.


  1. Milo Barham May 8, 2017 5:27pm

    I understand that circumstances beyond anyones control often create difficulties that require cuts and savings, which are often painful in the short term. However, from some of the planning documents released it seems that overly ambitious and unrealistic targets regarding income (in addition to staff productivity growth) are occasionally being made with the justification of a what is thought needed to maintain Curtins long-term growth and (what some may perceive) non-vital projects – “While our latest enrolment figures are higher than last year, they are below budgeted levels. Our student income for 2017 is estimated to be nearly $16 million lower than budget.”

  2. Jonathan Hallett May 8, 2017 7:06pm

    Expecting additional savings across all schools seems a pretty blunt and amateur attempt at financial management. Perhaps the University Council should revisit their misguided surplus expectations and the University executive could engage with staff outside their bubble to identify savings opportunities – perhaps we can start with stopping poorly thought out teaching initiatives that haven’t resulted in tangible benefits for the majority of teaching staff, and reduce funding campus activation initiatives instead of actually managing workloads and supporting student retention so that they have a real reason to be on campus. Not to mention excessive numbers of senior executive staff and their excessive wages…

  3. David Menarry May 8, 2017 7:26pm

    Thank you Milo for your comments.

    A great deal of attention is paid each year on ensuring that our load planning processes (undertaken each year with detailed input from schools, faculties, Curtin International, the Office of Strategy and Planning and Financial Services) are as accurate as possible.

    Unfortunately, relatively small deviations in student numbers (and mix of enrolments) can translate into significant variation in the amounts of revenue, although in percentage terms the deviation may be relatively small. This year, the student tuition revenue is estimated to be 2.4% below budget, a gap that is partially offset by improvements in other revenue, leaving a net forecast revenue position 1% below budget.

    To manage this forecast shortfall, faculties are being required to match expenditure to revenues and a savings target is being requested from each of the support areas. The capacity to fund any new strategic projects has also been reduced.

    I hope this explains the situation a little better. As always, I’m happy to receive feedback and suggestions directly.

    David Menarry

  4. Bruce Maycock May 10, 2017 10:18pm

    I have waited to see if others would add to these comments. The frustration voiced above is quite common amongst those teaching with less resource. It is unfortunate that we have not paused to celebrate. Our student enrolment is greater than last year. Given the national fiscal constraint, increased international competition and that students are questioning the value of a university education, I think this is an amazing outcome that should be celebrated by all those staff that have contributed to it.

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