Our meet your Head of Schools series continues with Nick Bisley.
Meet Nick Bisley, the Head of the Humanities and Social Sciences School
Nick Bisley gives us an insight to what the Head of the School is mainly responsible for.
“There’s about 175 academics, we teach across about 32 different areas, mostly majors but a few minors, plus we have a range of a few specialist degrees and being the Head of School is sort of overseeing that whole package.”
Nick wants students to know that lecturers and tutorial teachers don’t just attend their usual one hour class and then go home. The main work all goes on behind closed doors, with the final product being put on display when the lecture happens.
“What student’s don’t see directly is teaching is just one part of what we do, that’s a very important part of what we do, but there is also the research, and creative side of the operation, so when the academics aren’t in class or preparing for class or marking essays, they’re doing their archaeological field work or sociology research, so figuring out how to manage all
“The other thing that we have to do is be kind of conduit between the school and the rest of the university so I sit on a lot of university committees, college committees, in which you are trying to influence decisions that are happening higher up the university and also figuring out how to implement decisions that are coming down the food chain.”
Among other things, Nick describes his work day as always on the go with no breaks in between the day.
“Any given day is usually rushing from meeting to meeting to meeting. Sometimes it will also include teaching, sometimes it’ll include presentations. There’s isn’t kind of a typical day except for the fact that they’re always very busy.
“There is not a gap between 9:00 and 5:00.”
Nick is also responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly within the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.
“We have to make sure all of the teaching we do happens, the staff in the right rooms and all that kind of stuff and that the areas we got are covered.”
“There’s responsibilities around across the year in the amount of research that’s produced, that we teach enough students to pay the bills and then also making sure that all of the systems at the university are followed and implemented and all the policies are followed and then we have to prepare the budget and figure out how much are we going to spend.”
“Also advocacy up and down. So you’ve got to be responsible to represent your area up into the higher levels of the university management.”
Nick would like to see the curriculum taught at the university to become “more relevant to students and prospective students” with a “greater sense of collective ownership”, while also “ensuring regional offering and the regional presences is as good as it gets.”
As like many of the staff here at La Trobe University, Nick is committed to ensuring the student experience is a high priority within the university community.
“[We want to] make the experience as good as it can be.”
“The biggest challenge is to have closer and better relationships with our students, but that’s really hard in the university because of the scale in which we operate.”
“Building that relationship with such a big cohort is very challenging so that’s one of the things we are trying to figure out, how do we do that and what are the ways in which we can break down the big groups into small groups and build a closer relationship, because I think that’s at the heart.”
Stay tuned for our next meeting with Jane Hamilton, the Head of Business School.