College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS)

Click the below links to access the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) change management process:

You can also access the ANU Recovery Plan and College and Portfolio plans.


    If you have a question regarding the CECS change management process or the CECS recovery plan, please send your comments and feedback to


    Staff and their family members can access free support and counselling through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which can be reached on 1800 808 374 (this number operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week).

    Town halls

    Frequently asked questions

    Updated 29 October 2020 at 2.30pm

    1.  Is there a coordinated approach to change across ANU, to avoid gaps or overlaps in capability or to share resources across two or more Colleges or Portfolios?

    Following the release of the College and Portfolio Recovery Plans on 13 October 2020, each Colleges and Portfolios have commenced forums and updates within their local areas.

    Some detailed Change Management Plans – like from CECS and CASS – have already been released and are in a consultation period at the moment.   Further plans are expected to be released across the ANU Community during November 2020 and in early 2021 as areas  consider any changes that may be required to respond to and support the ANU Recovery Plan and the Expenditure Control Framework (ECF).

    Colleges and Portfolios are working closely during this time and with the ANU Service Performance Framework which will ensure our services are collaborative, responsive, continuously improving, value for money and provide exceptional service. 

    2.  The Professional Services Group (PSG) is likely to be impacted by the proposed changes. What plans could we have in place to ensure the PSG is supported during this time so that critical services are still able to be delivered during this period of disruption?

    A high-performing and effective PSG is critical to the continued success of CECS.  The PSG has been instrumental in the growth of CECS to the present and will continue to be in our future.

    It is a priority to ensure continued delivery of PSG services along with support for the PSG team as we consult on proposed changes within the College.  This support and focus on continuity of service will continue through any period of implementation for any confirmed changes.  We are seeking as far as possible, to minimise disruption.

    To assist and support the PSG during this time, the proposed changes include the continuation of fixed term and contracted staff within the PSG (including those on temporary transfers into CECS) for their contracted periods.  This will further assist in ensuring the delivery of critical services through this time.

    3.  Why are we standing up/down different intellectual areas?  Why are we pursuing this new structure and how does it capture and/or facilitate our aspirations for interdisciplinary work?

    The Change Management proposal outlines a structure for the College that would organise the proposed new Schools around activity clusters. The structure outlines a limited set of activity clusters – Aerospace Engineering, Autonomy, Agency and Assurance Institute, Computational Science, Data Science & Analytics, Design, Electrical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Intelligent Systems, Mechatronics, Secure Software Systems, Software Innovation, and Systems.  Importantly, while Field of Research codes have been proposed as a method to populate certain clusters from our existing staff, these Field of Research codes do not define the clusters.

    The proposed adoption of an activity cluster model also reflects both the advice received from the recent external Advisory panel, as well as an accepted organisational model that drives impact, including at universities we would regard as aspirational global peers. It is hoped that this model of activity clusters will allow the development of increasingly robust cross-school and cross-university engagement.

    The ANU Recovery Plan specifically stated: “The ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science launched their 2025 Reimagine Strategic Intent last year to create capability for Australia’s future. The 2021 allocation reflects the College's next steps in developing future disciplines and acknowledges the important role played in the generation of international student revenue.”  In other words, the financial allocation to CECS accommodated a set of high-level and exogenous expectations and constraints set by the financial implications of the ANU Recovery Plan, the ongoing commitment by the VC and ANU Council to the agenda set by the Reimagine Investment and the University’s strategic investment in the Innovation institutes. The proposed activity clusters were developed within that set of externalities.

    The proposed activity clusters carry forward two of the three CECS Innovation Institutes reflecting the University’s commitment to continuing the work of the Innovation Institutes (3Ai, SII).  They carry forward a subset of the academic activities originally planned for the new Schools funded under the Reimagine Investment; and they carry forward affordable traditional and emerging, externally recognised academic strengths of the College.  These choices about what to do – or, by implication what not to do - are not indicative of the relative importance of different areas but represent a subset of activities with a viable pathway to the critical mass to achieve excellence in education, research, and impact.

    4.  How will the proposed changes to programs affect current students? How are students being consulted and considered in this proposal and its implementation?

    Students are valued members of the CECS and University community and their input and involvement in discussions of the proposed changes are very important. 

    A high priority for the College, and across the University, is to deliver strong educational experiences as a basis for our students to take advantage of more flexible future study and career opportunities. 

    Town Halls for coursework and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students were held on 23 October 2020 to seek direct input from our student community.  The consultation period on the proposed changes continues till Thursday 29 October and we invite continued feedback to be submitted to

    Current students in proposed discontinued programs or majors will be supported and have pathways to completion. Teach-out plans would be developed to ensure that students can satisfy the requirements for their programs and not be delayed in their progression. In any teach-out plans, some courses may be substituted in program requirements to enable completion for students where individual courses themselves are disestablished, but every effort would be made to substitute like for like. Accreditation of programs would be unaffected. Affected students would be consulted in planning and implementation to understand their preferences and concerns.

    • With respect to the proposed discontinuation of the BSEng(Honours) the last entering cohort would begin in 2021. All current and incoming students in the program would have the option of transferring into the BAC(Honours). With the core course overlap between these programs this should be relatively straightforward
    • The proposed changes in the Engineering education offerings were commenced external to and prior to this process.  In summary, the Bachelor of Engineering (including R&D) will remain but it has already been proposed that majors in Biomedical Systems and Mechanical & Material Systems are to be discontinued, as is the Master of Engineering in Digital Systems and Telecommunications Engineering.  Consultation, including with affected students, has occurred and teach-out plans are under active development.  Currently enrolled students will be provided with a pathway to complete their chosen major.  Discontinued majors will not be available to students commencing from 2021.
    • The proposed Environmental Engineering major is working its way through final University approvals and is expected to be available to students from 2022.

    5.  The change proposal is silent on what happens to the (PSG) tasks that are currently done by the roles being removed.  Have these tasks been identified for removal as unnecessary?

    The change proposal identifies the proposed core service and themes that the PSG will continue to deliver capability against - within the framework and scale of resources available to the College.  It also recognises that, as the University more broadly considers and implements the Service Performance Framework , the manner in which services are delivered will evolve to support a sustainable operating model that enables a leading-edge environment for students, academics, professional staff and partners in service experience, delivery and design

    In considering the proposed changes, it is recognised there will be some services and tasks the PSG will continue to do and there will be some that will change.

    If any individual or group has identified particular areas of concern, they are encouraged to bring these forward for consideration or through one of the key contacts listed in the Change Proposal.

    The consultation period on the proposed changes continues till Thursday 29 October and we invite continued feedback to be submitted to

    6.  What tasks have been mapped out of the PSG and into school or portfolio levels and why?

    Different services are embedded at different layers throughout Colleges, Schools and Portfolios across the University. A feature of the proposed changes within CECS is to recognise certain functions may work with like functions and benefit from “critical mass” through co-locating with similar colleagues and services, and be closer to the core of where they need to be.

    For example, commodity IT services are presently lead by the Information Technology Service Division (ITS) at the whole-of-ANU level. However, specialist computing support services are intended to be closer to their centre of mass. This is the case for computing research and education support services in the proposed School of Computing, where a focus on IT in education and CECS centric services are required.

    For such specialist services, the capability and support will be available throughout the College. Similarly, the WHS services working within the proposed School of Engineering are providing specialist services required within the School, while supporting the general and important WHS requirements and reporting required across the College.

    7.  Why are we moving to generalist position titles across the professional services teams? 

    The change proposal outlines both a proposed structure and proposed position titles within the redesigned PSG.  The rationale for the proposed new position titles was to emphasise the importance of our service delivery and collaborative culture.

    The consultation period on the proposed changes continues till Thursday 29 October and suggestions, feedback and ideas on the proposed position titles including options and alternatives to these are encouraged.  Feedback can be submitted to

    8.  In the proposed new structure for the PSG there are a small number of positions and more people than available positions in certain areas.  Are you taking account of part-time work?

    Positions in the proposed new PSG structure have been presented as full time positions to reflect the level of resourcing that is expected to be required and available within the budget.  Flexible working arrangements are already in place across the University and arrangements like job-sharing or part time or reduced hours are currently available and can be implemented by agreement between staff members and supervisors. These arrangements may be suitable in some areas; however, it will not be suitable for all staff, positions or across all areas of the University.

    9.  Can you please produce detailed before and after organisational charts of the PSG to help staff understand the change? *Updated Tuesday 27 October 2020

    All organisational charts prepared as part of change proposals are released with position titles and level details only. The proposed PSG organisational structure is included in the change proposal. The current PSG organisational chart has been prepared and is included in the list of reference documents above.

    10.  When will decisions about a new structure be made; and how and when will the implementation be rolled out?

    The two week consultation period on the proposed changes commenced on 15 October 2020 and will continue till Thursday 29 October 2020.  Staff, students and other stakeholders are encouraged to consider the proposed changes and submit their questions and feedback during this time.

    All input is being collated and carefully considered and will be included in the preparation and release of a change implementation plan. 

    The implementation plan will include:

    • genuine consideration of matters raised about the proposed changes; and
    • the confirmed changes and the process and timeframe for implementation.

    For any of the proposed changes that are confirmed in the Implementation Plan, details on positions that can or cannot be directly transferred will be outlined.  This will include details on eligibility for EOI processes where a selection process is required before a direct transfer can be confirmed.

    We will consult with staff impacted by any confirmed changes individually for all possible options in accordance with clauses 67 and 68 of the ANU Enterprise Agreement

    The University set out a timetable in the change management proposal, and will keep staff and students informed of any amendments to this timetable.

    If you have any questions about the change management process, especially implementation, you are encouraged to contact the nominated members of staff in the below table:



    Contact details

    Professor Elanor Huntington


    ANU CECS ph: 02 6125 8807

    Professor Nick Birbilis

    Deputy Dean


    ph: 02 612 57611

    Duane Findley

    General Manager (Interim) ANU CECS ph: 02 6125 1451

    Belinda Farrelly

    Associate Director, Organisational Change ph: 02 6125 3012

    Further information about organisational change and consultation at ANU can be found in clause 68 of The Australian National University Enterprise Agreement 2017-2021.

    11.  What is the breakdown of expenditure for organisational units in CECS over the last few years? *Added Thursday 29 October 2020

    The figure below shows expenditure across CECS, with comparison to the Reimagine business case. 2020 figures are as budgeted at the start of the year.

    (you can click on the figure to enlarge or access full size document here)

    The figure shows stacked (ie cumulative) expenditure across CECS, with comparison to the Reimagine business case.  The stacked lines represent actual expenditure for 2017, 2018, 2019 and budgeted expenditure (as at the start of the year) for 2020.  The stacked regions represent the planned expenditure approved under the Reimagine business case.

    12.  How bad is the fiscal cliff for computer science at the ANU and what are the implications for the future of computing at the ANU? *Added Thursday 29 October 2020

    In the period 2016 to 2019 computer science teaching programs at the ANU grew rapidly. The growth was dominated by international students: from 508 EFTSL (59% of total load) in 2016 to 1335 IN 2019 (72% of total load). 2020 has seen a small drop to 1126 EFTSL (62% of total load). However, commencing student load has dropped much more significantly by 38.4% from 328 EFTSL in 2019 to 202 EFTSL in 2020.

    University modelling predicts aggregated course load for computer science (including students from non-CS degree programs) falling from 1,602.6 in 2020 to 1360.8 in 2021, 1203.6 in 2022, and 1162.1 in 2023—representing a decline of 38% over just three years. Thus, the vacuum created in the student pipeline already evident in 2020 is predicted to carry forward for the next several years, and would result in student load in computer science retreating to pre-2017 numbers just as rapidly as that load was acquired.

    Computing at the ANU has evolved significantly since 2016, not just in RSCS. Under the Reimagine business plan, many new academic staff have been hired into RSCS, academic staff in computer vision have been hired into RSEEME, and the Software Innovation Institute (SII) has pioneered new ways of translating computing research and education at the ANU into the world. These strategic gains address many of the criticisms delivered in the RSCS external review of 2016.

    The proposed new School will lock in these gains in a more streamlined footprint that is positioned not just to survive the projected precipitous drop in student fee income, but also ensuring headroom for the proposed new School to thrive in alignment with university-wide recovery. The proposed new School of Computing would be larger than the present RSCS, with a proposed 2021 ECF budget to match ($19M as compared to projected ECF expenditures for RSCS of approximately $16M in 2020). This size reflects significantly expanded capabilities, consolidating computing activities from across the College, including returning research/education computing facility operations formerly held by the College to a School that they primarily serve.