Vignette 4: Sustainability

Peter: “We had a look at a particular transnational program in China that took an embedded approach to academic literacy. We found that the students really valued the integration of academic skills in the course. Following discussions with all unit coordinators, we believe that all existing curricula can be similarly adapted to include the teaching of academic skills across units and programs in a sustainable way.”

Dianne: “Sustainability is one of those buzz words, but I have learnt from experience what it means in relation to an institutional approach to language development. First, there has to be continuity of staffing, particularly at the senior levels. We’ve had several staff changes over the last couple of years, and each time it seems as though we have to begin from scratch. The corporate history, the tribal memory, just seems to disappear with each new DVC. Second, any strategic approach we come up with should go through the committee system and get written into our policies and procedures. That way, even if there are staff changes there will be continuity of approach and thus sustainability.”

Russell: “I’ve discussed this with colleagues from other universities, and it seems that one of the major problems is that universities keep taking a ‘project’ approach to developing an institutional strategy. The very word ‘project’ goes against the notion of sustainability, with its emphasis on the temporary and bounded. We need to ensure that responsibility for the rollout, administration and evaluation of the strategy is managed by a business area of the university, not just a temporary project officer. That’s the only way it will become sustainable.”