Honi has obtained Sydney University’s detailed plans to cut all fixed jobs in the Learning Centre and Maths Learning Centre, in addition to abolishing units.
The draft change proposal would see 20 staff made redundant across both centres, with those on fixed term contracts set to have their positions “reviewed” once their contracts come to an end. Additionally, there are more slated redundancies within the Centre for English Teaching.
The proposal would see current academic positions within the Learning Centre, which offers support to students in writing, research and study skills, replaced by professional learning advisors.
Staff within the Learning Centre believe research is critical to the centre’s success, and that the replacement of academic staff would see the quality of education delivered worsen, along with a likely drop in satisfaction rates.
“Ultimately you need people with PhDs and with the experience of publishing in journals to help students at the Higher Degree by Research level,” Senior Lecturer Dr Helen Drury, whose position is set to be made redundant, explained to Honi.
The 2020 Student Life Survey showed that 85.8% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the centre is an important service for the student community.
The Learning Centre is currently developing responses to the University’s draft change proposal, and is working with the campus branch of the NTEU.
There is currently no strategy for replacing the Maths Learning Centre at all, which provides support for current and prospective students in mathematics and statistics skills.
Instead, the University is proposing that this becomes the responsibility of critically affected faculties. Staff within such faculties have expressed concern in their ability to also support at risk students, in addition to carrying out other teaching responsibilities.
Honi understands that staff are reaching out to the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education) Philippa Pattison and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Student Life) Susanna Scarparo to outline their concerns.
This proposal is another austerity measure pursued by management in a year dominated by job and course cuts.
Whilst public universities have been denied access to the Federal Government’s JobKeeper supplement, despite Sydney University’s brief eligibility, the University is in a much better financial position than previously expected.
Sydney University is operating on a $46million surplus on its 2020 budget.
More to come.