Derby to answer market call with revamp

November 22, 2002

The University of Derby has adopted a business model in an effort to identify and capture new higher education markets, writes Tony Tysome.

Teaching staff have been told that they must double up as market researchers and developers or take on a "customer-support" role to help build the new business ethos in the university.

A department of customer services has been set up. It will bring together student support and guidance, administration, marketing and promotions.

Call centres have also been introduced to deal with inquiries around the clock.

The number of schools has been reduced from eight to four broader units. Each of these units will be expected to work closely with a business development unit to seek out and capture new markets and funding.

Vice-chancellor Roger Waterhouse said that the changes, which will be phased in by August next year, were needed to put the university in a position to respond to changing market conditions.

He added that the changes would also maximise Derby's ability to offer more flexible courses and to widen participation.

He said: "We are a service industry but we have not been behaving like one. The student profile is changing, and so the structure of the university needs to change.

"A university such as Derby that does not focus on recruiting traditional full-time students needs to be able to be light on its feet."

Professor Waterhouse said that educational rather than financial motives were behind the reorganisation.

The university broke even last year and is expected to make a small surplus this year, he said.

Any staff cuts would be managed through "natural wastage" rather than a redundancy programme, Professor Waterhouse added.

Mick Booth, Derby branch chair of lecturers' union Natfhe, said that so far staff had not raised objections to the reorganisation and that they welcomed changes that might bring in more students.

But he added: "If there is going to be a change in the role of lecturers, then we would want to see the details and to be consulted on them."

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