This is the transcript for the video Master of Local Government

Dr Bligh Grant: Hello, and welcome to this presentation on Local Government courses here at UTS. My name is Dr Bligh Grant; I’m Associate Professor of Politics, Policy and Applied Ethics, and I’m also the Director of the Local Government courses here at UTS. I hope you’re enjoying the Open Day.

In this brief presentation I want to do four things; firstly talk about the Centre for Local Government quite briefly. Then have a look at the courses and the subjects in detail. Then have a look at what we’re doing to the subjects to bring them to you, and some new subjects which you might be interested in. And have a look at online teaching as well, and let you know how you can get in contact with us.

Just very briefly, I think it’s important to emphasise that a lot of people teach courses to Local Government or about Local Government in Australia; we are one of the only ones that do it from the university. We’re by far the largest, and we’re comparable to institutes such as [is] overseas which are more prevalent because Local Government is more important overseas, which is interesting – something that you’d find out if you enrol in the subject.

We’ve also been around for a while; we commenced operation in 1991 – so we have some legacy and we have some institutional depth. We also have contact with, as I said lots of institutes overseas, but State and Federal Government, and of course Local Government as well, and we work closely with those organisations in teaching and research.

Local Government at University of Technology of Sydney is informed by our academic research. We’re not non-university providers; there is several academics here that have been specialising in Local Government for many, many years, including myself. But we nevertheless bring an applied approach to that teaching. So we write these books, and you do need university stuff, the critical thinking and communication skills and things like that, but we’re also engaged with the sector to bring this knowledge to you.

So we have the academic rigor there; it’s important to emphasise that. We teach our subjects face-to-face, or we teach them online, and I was very, very keen personally to offer all of the subjects and the whole program online. Why? In the name of equity; there’s a lot of people that don’t live in Metropolitan Sydney, and they should have the opportunity to enrol in Local Government. Local Government employs 200,000 people in this country, and they should have the opportunity to up-skill for their work and for their own self-benefit.

So from the beginning of 2019 the whole of our subjects were available online – have been available online – that’s important to emphasise. The average age of our students is around about 38/39. So don’t think you’re too old to do this subject, and at the same time don’t think you’re too young. There’s a very good teaching practice [Nexus]; you will learn a lot from your peers in Local Government that have the raw stories, whether they come from Darwin or Cairns or wherever, and it’s interesting to find out what they have to say.

We do a lot of research into this stuff, that’s extremely important. So into the value of Local Government, into amalgamations, into councillors – what they do, into things like participatory budgeting – these are all peer-reviewed stuff. This is all peer-reviewed stuff, so it’s pretty serious stuff.

Our job is to make it amenable to you. Some of the Capstone projects cover party politics in Local Government New South Wales, middle managers, community engagement ,ethics, ICT in local government – it’s a very mixed bag, local government, because they have to do everything. So if you’re sitting there in local government, or you’ve got a specialist area and you think oh, woe I can’t really do the [green] because I don’t know what it’s in. Local government covers everything; so keep that in mind. We have people from very, very diverse backgrounds.

Speaking of which, UTS is a progressive institution; so you don’t necessarily have to have an undergraduate degree to enrol here. That’s extremely important; we’re more than happy to have a conversation with you about how we can get you into the program and how we recognise prior learning – it’s extremely important.

So what are your enrolment options at a graduate level? We have the Master of Local Government, a Graduate Diploma of Local Government, a Graduate Certificate of Local Government, and a Graduate Certificate in Development Assessment – it’s a lot to take in. Master of Local Government is 72 credit points; what does that mean – each subject is six credit points. So for a Master’s, you do six core subjects and six electives and it scales down from there.

Let’s have a look at some of the courses. For the Master of Local Government, you’ve got these compulsory subjects, and all of these electives. The compulsory subjects are Local Government Principles and Practice which is political history, political science and political economy of Local Government – you need to know that deep background stuff if you want to be good at Local Government in this country – it’s that simple.

We also have a management component, public value creation and things like that. We also teach research methods. Why; because we want you to be competent and happy researchers, both in your job in Local Government and also while you’re doing your degree. We want you to be able to critically assess what the Big Four companies are saying about what Local Government should be doing. We also do comparative Local Government; it’s extremely important – as I said Local Government is everywhere, what can we learn from overseas experiences? That’s extremely important; not just the suspects, the United States and New Zealand, the United Kingdom, but other places as well – Japan, China and so on and so forth.

And you have two research subjects – this is for the full Masters. We spend some time getting you ready to do your dissertation; we want you to enjoy doing your research project and for that reason we’ve elongated it. We don’t want to make it easy and rushed and like undergraduate, it’s not like that here. I don’t like that, you don’t like that, so guess what – we don’t do it. It’s not that difficult to organise.

Let’s have a look at some of the electives. Social Planning and Community Development, Strategic Planning, Local Environmental Management. We have options for Vocational Competencies. We have two leadership subjects. We teach Local Government Economics and Finance, Applied Ethics for State and Local Government, and we’re introducing Local Government and Indigenous Governance. It’s everything.

We also have a Project Management sub-major; people like to do some project management things while they’re doing the Master or the Graduate Diploma, or the Grad Cert of Local Government. So it’s a busy interesting little planet, Local Government, but you need to know the big stuff as well. A lot of us – for a lot of us that’s really important.

We also have a large PhD program; that’s very important for us because these people teach into the Graduate program. So Dr Helen Christensen is a specialist in community engagement; guess what – she teaches that stuff. Neil Selmon is a long-standing senior bureaucrat in New South Wales Planning and he teaches that stuff and so on and so forth. Extremely important to emphasise that, as well as the professorial staff, of which I’m one.

As I said, we teach all of this online; we also are introducing Micro-credential, so you can have a little snack and have a look, and do some professional development in that sense, and then upgrade into a graduate subject. You can only do that for a couple at the moment, but we’re going to increasingly roll that out for you. All of this stuff – our new online program is absolutely fantastic. I’ve taught online for a very, very long time across now three universities in this country, and it’s very, very good – the people that I’ve been working with are very highly skilled and it’s been a pleasure to do that.

So this is about – Local Government is about giving you skills to either be employed, gaining employment in Local Government and very importantly to up-skill in Local Government; a lot of our students are promoted in the course of their degrees, most of them overwhelmingly. So this is about that, but also we have students who want to find out about Local Government in coming from other places as well, and we make sure that it’s interactive, and it really is about a lifetime employment as well. So come back, do another subject with it. That’s what we do.

So if you’ve got any questions, that’s my phone number 0400 338 762. Let’s make it simple, and you can give me a call. Or email and we’ll be happy to have a chat with you and see how we can fit you into the program.

Thanks for your time.