‘Catastrophic’: Union responds to university restructure
SIGNIFICANT structural reform at Southern Cross University has been met with concern from a national union who say the impact of job losses could be severe.
The changes announced last week - which will reduce six academic schools into four faculties - were described as 'catastrophic' by National Tertiary Education Union SCU-branch acting-president Brad Shipway.
While Lismore will bear the brunt of the staffing cuts, which amount to 63 full time positions lost across the university's three campuses, seven jobs are expected go from Coffs Harbour.
Mr Shipway emphasised the cuts should not be viewed in isolation and together with the round of voluntary redundancies in September it amounted to 134 positions lost in a matter of months.
"The community needs to understand these cuts come after a round of voluntary redundancies where 71 people went," he said.
"Our students are already very concerned about teacher/student ratios … (and) we are greiviously concerned about the impact this will have on the quality of offerings to our students."
Southern Cross University has been open about the multimillion-dollar budget hole it has found itself in due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier in the year the university predicted a budget shortfall of $38 million, revised down to $33 million, and signalled there were significant structural reforms to come.
Mr Shipway said while he and other staff understood the "unprecedented" situation, he wanted more clarity on how the cuts would impact the budget.
To build the "trust and collegiality" required to "land" the institutional changes proposed, Mr Shipway said the university should open their books and demonstrate all the job losses were neccessary.
"The university community is in no way saying we don't want any change," he said.
"We know change is required, we know reform is required and we even know cutbacks are required.
"We do not agree the response … should be cuts that (are) catastrophic to a community institution."
When announcing the changes last week, SCU Vice Chancellor Professor Tyrone Carlin said there was "no easy option" and they had done all they could to minimise job losses.
It is expected a small number of staff will be offered redeployment.
"This has been a challenging year for almost everyone in Australia but these reforms will make Southern Cross University stronger and more viable as we step into an ever more competitive higher education landscape," he said.