The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has given its marketing department “approved messaging” on staff and course cuts for Open Week, which began today and ends on Friday.
Whilst held online this year, Open Week traditionally sees thousands of prospective UTS students visit the Ultimo campus, and is a key time for the University to market itself.
The approved messaging document seen by Honi includes pre-written answers to questions such as: “I’ve seen media reports that UTS will have to lose staff and there will likely be redundancies coming to the organisation — what does this mean for prospective students?”, “Will UTS need to sell of buildings for financial reasons?”, “With classes continuing online will student fees be reduced?”, in addition to questions on potential restructures, mergers and course cuts.
The approved answers are deliberately vague, pointing to UTS not being “immune to the impacts of COVID-19”, and attempting to offset anger about cuts to courses by gesturing to “new courses based on demand and interest.” The University explains that cutting some courses will be a result of low demand or costing too much.
The answers also show that UTS has no current plans to sell off any of the main buildings including the Tower, UTS Central, the Chau Chak Wing Building or the Engineering and IT Building, but that other land assets purchased prior to COVID-19 may need to be sold.
Whilst the University does not have any current plans for faculty mergers, they admit that these are possible in the future months or years. UNSW recently announced that the Arts and Social Sciences, Art and Design and Built Environment faculties would be merged into one.
UTS has no plans to reduce fees for online subjects, with the University’s approved answer attempting to dispel any concerns that online learning is worse for students, saying students are “overwhelmingly satisfied.”
UTS has lost $60million in revenue this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with predicted losses of between $80 to $250million next year. Up to 500 staff on campus risk losing their jobs.
Honi reached out to UTS for comment on why the University saw approved messaging as necessary, whether the University would consider pursuing disciplinary action against employees who deviated from the script, and whether the University actively monitors what employees say, in addition to asking what specific land assets the University would consider selling. UTS did not respond in time for publication.