In a staff forum yesterday, Adelaide University Vice-Chancellor Peter Høj proposed a range of cost-cutting measures to save $30 million against a projected budget shortfall of $47 million by 2023.
Among the proposals are the forced redundancies of upwards of 130 FTE professional staff, rationalisation of “underperforming” programs and courses, and a “review of the academic workforce,” which the Adelaide NTEU expects will lead to academic job losses. Under this proposal, academic staff will be reviewed according to their “activity relative to revenue generation.”
The University will also seek to raise revenue through “a greater drive in philanthropy.”
In a message to staff, Høj pointedly said that it was “critical for our University’s students and staff — and for the State — that we address our looming financial shortfall to ensure our institution’s future sustainability.”
The potential forced redundancies come on top of 157 voluntary redundancies accepted by staff at Adelaide University in 2020.
According to Campus Morning Mail, Chief Operating Officer Bruce Lines told the forum that voluntary redundancies risked “losing people from areas we have no control over” and that “unfortunately, the time has come to be more targeted and more deliberate.”
Adelaide University staff last year accepted extensive concessions to their Enterprise Agreement to help offset the impact of the COVID crisis on the University. Staff accepted a pay cut of 3.5%, lost their annual leave loading, postponed a pay increase of 1.5% and adopted a ‘purchased leave’ leave scheme. The concessions aimed to save 200 FTE jobs.
Nick Warner, the NTEU Adelaide Branch President, told Honi that “after the sacrifices staff made last year as part of the Enterprise Agreement Variation, it would be an understatement to say that staff are disappointed with the news.”
“Blame for this terrible predicament lies firmly at the feet of the Federal Government who have quite deliberately cut funding to the university sector for both teaching and research along with actively excluding universities from JobKeeper support.”
The union acknowledged that management had been “upfront with staff about the situation” and expressed the view that “listening to the views and ideas of staff is the only way for a path forward that minimises the pain that job losses will bring.”
Today’s news comes at the end of a torrid fortnight for the university sector, with forced redundancies and department cuts also announced at the University of Newcastle, La Trobe, Macquarie and UWA.