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Students and staff protest cuts and faculty mergers at UNSW

493 full time equivalent jobs are set to be cut at UNSW.

Students and staff rallied at UNSW this afternoon to protest the recently announced job cuts and faculty mergers at the University.

UNSW is set to cut almost 500 full time equivalent staff jobs in response to COVID-19 related revenue losses of $370 million. 

The cuts, announced on 15 July amount to a 7.5 per cent cut of full time staff at the University. 

In addition to the staff cuts, the University is also pursuing faculty mergers, which will see the current Built Environment, Art and Design faculty and the Art and Social Sciences faculty merge into one.

The UNSW branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) was quick to come out against the job cuts, yet there was noticeably no NTEU contingent at today’s rally organised by the campus Education Collective.

The protest was chaired by SRC Education Officer Shovan Bhattarai who emphasised the importance of students and staff taking a maximalist position, asserting that “not a cent will come out of staff pockets.” Bhattarai additionally noted that UNSW is “as usual at the forefront of this attack”, drawing parallels with the University’s introduction of the unpopular trimester system.

Kynan Tan, a staff member at the University who organises with the UNSW casuals network said that the network “rejects the… proposed restructure and job cuts”, and argued that University managers “do not support communities of students and workers.”

“Consultation has been a masterclass in managerialism”, he told the crowd.

Alma Torlakovic, of the Sydney University NTEU branch stated “there is nothing voluntary about redundancies”, before arguing that the NTEU’s Job Protection Framework is a concessions strategy which does not save jobs and has emboldened university managements.

Student activist Cherish Kuehlmann, drew attention to the new $1 billion defence campus in Canberra in light of the job cuts.

Honi understands that the job cuts will not affect those on the Canberra campus.

Universities across the country are in increasingly precarious financial situations, driven in large part by declining student numbers as a result of COVID-19. In addition, the government has denied the JobKeeper subsidy to public universities and proposed fee hikes, which could see the cost of Arts degrees more than double.

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