Deakin Uni to offload AHRI

DEAKIN UNIVERSITY will hand the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) back to its members in a few months, according to Jo Mithen, executive director of the Institute

DEAKIN UNIVERSITY will hand the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) back to its members in a few months, according to Jo Mithen, executive director of the Institute.

“We’ve been working on this issue for five years … I’m happy to be able to report that will in fact take place in the next few months,” she said in an interview with Human Resources magazine.

Deakin purchased AHRI in early 2000 shortly after the Institute went into voluntary administration, but agreed it would offer AHRI back to its members after five years as long as three conditions were met – one of those being that members actually wanted the Institute back.

While AHRI hasn’t gone to a member vote to ascertain whether or not this is the case, Mithen said, “we’ve made assumptions about that, and any concerns about that particular issue have already been resolved with elected officials.

“Deakin is simply going to hand it back to the members, and we’re putting things in place to ensure that it will continue to be managed professionally.”

Since AHRI was bought by Deakin in 2000, Mithen said the Institute has been managed as a wholly owned, not for profit subsidiary of the University.

“We don’t turn a profit and we don’t return a dividend to the University, but we are financially independent from the University and wholly self-sustaining,”Mithen said.

“There is an unfortunate misconception out there that Deakin bought AHRI to make money, and that has certainly not been the case.”

However, in a dispute between the National Tertiary Education Industry Union and AHRI, heard before the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) in late 2003, AHRI acknowledged it made annual payments to repay the initial investment made by Deakin, while any surpluses generated by the Institute were given back to the University.

There have also been concerns among HR professionals about potential conflicts of interest, given the purpose of AHRI and Deakin’s provision of HR related courses.

Deakin acquired the rights to AHRI’s educational programs when it purchased the Institute in 2000, and the University plays a significant role in delivering the programs through AHRI – some of which “provide a pathway”into postgraduate studies at Deakin.

In the dispute between the National Tertiary Education Industry Union and AHRI, the AIRC also noted the graduate diploma advertised by AHRI is owned and operated by Deakin – which provided AHRI with a marketing allowance for promoting the pathway between the professional diploma and the graduate diploma.

In 2000, Robert Thomason, AHRI’s former executive director, said that when Deakin began discussions with AHRI, “we felt it was untenable in the Australian environment for an organisation like AHRI to be held in private hands indefinitely.

“To this end, we believe that it was possible to take control of AHRI for a short period of time to restructure the organisation, strengthen the organisation and then to hand back the organisation to the members,” he said.

Click here to see the features on AHRIs continuing credibility gap and AHRIs response.

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