Flying high: like airlines, universities take us where we need to be
Marnie Hughes-Warrington on why we don’t need two ERAs
Accounting for casuals in Australian public sector universities
Tim Winkler’s three big lessons from weekends lost at virtual open days
What more could one want
“We’re sorry not to see everyone back on campus, but rest assured you can still access over 800 peer reviewed titles from the comfort of your home, absolutely free,” ANU Press yesterday, (via Twitter). Netflix revenue will plummet.
There’s more in the Mail
In Features this morning
Andrew Taggart (Murdoch U) argues low ATAR is better than no ATAR and doing one or two ATAR courses is better than no ATAR.
Lucy Montgomery (Curtin U) – why open access is the new publishing normal and what it means.
Jason Murphy (RMIT) and Lisa Hodge (Victoria U) on writing groups – help for researchers
Deadline for a deal at Uni Newcastle
Management wants to know what staff will accept
Uni Newcastle wants to delay pay rises due this September and in 2021, to address revenue losses. Management says there is in-principle agreement with campus unions on reducing leave balances and early retirement (CMM July 30).
The university has set a Monday deadline for a decision by unions onaccepting the pay rise deferrals, which would be influential with other staff. Deferring a pay-rise requires an all-staff vote to vary the university enterprise agreement. If this is to happen time is tight to get a ballot organised.
The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union has called an all-staff meeting for tomorrow. Uni Newcastle observers suggest staff there will want management to provide a number of jobs saved by deferring pay rises.
Jobs saved by staff sacrifice at Uni Wollongong
Delaying pay rises will protect 200 positions
Uni Wollongong and unions proposed savings to staff last month which included deferring to 2022 previously agreed pay rises. But nobody was committing to how many people doing this would save from the sack, (CMM July 30).
Staff voting backed the proposal, which turns out to be expected to save around 200 FTE. The estimate is in the independent oversight of university savings measures, which was part of the unity ticket agreement.
This is the mid-range number of jobs to go that management set-out in a previous proposal to staff – although then it was tied to 12 month pay cuts (CMM June 5).
Next year way worse at UTS
UTS expects to lose $50m-$60m this year – it could be $200m plus next
VC Attila Brungs yesterday briefed staff on a “deteriorating revenue outlook.”
the good news: “we are beginning to see signs of increased enrolment in postgraduate coursework and our new online courses have enrolments well above initial estimates.”
the bad news: “each month that passes without a pilot of the secure corridor for international students to return to Australia raises the likelihood our intake will be significantly diminished.”
revenue: “the increasing likelihood of a significantly diminished Autumn 2021 international student intake, and other worsening external actors, have led us to conclude that the impact will be on the upper end of that scale, likely $200m plus.”
non-staff savings: “we have continued to successfully defer or reduce our spending on capital, travel, recruitment, consulting and in other areas of discretionary expenditure.”
people: a voluntary separation programme,” designed to be very attractive to staff” will run from now to year end.
“The scale and success of this program will also be critical in determining financial projections for 2021 and 2022, and in determining what additional measures may be required, including additional job losses beyond the VSP.”
Professor Brungs also urges staff to reduce their leave balances. “I cannot emphasise enough how every dollar we save through leave balance reductions will also directly reduce the number of jobs impacted.”
jobs will go: “Over the coming months, we will also begin planning and consulting, guided by the lens of our
strategy, in preparation for broader organisational impacts and targeted redundancies which will need to be implemented throughout 2021.”
quite a few jobs: Perhaps double the 200-250 FTE previously estimated. “Until we get a clearer indication of the take-up of the voluntary measures and greater financial clarity, we cannot be more precise about the impact on jobs,” the VC adds. This will not matter much to those already gone. “We have already seen some impact on jobs in 2020 arising from a reduction in teaching load and the inability to rehire fixed-term positions where workloads or budgets have reduced due to COVID-19.
not happening: The vice chancellor does not mention temporary reductions in staff pay and conditions as a way of reducing job losses.
CSU staff wonder where the VC is
With courses being cut, major management changes and job losses looming staff at Charles Sturt U have all sorts of questions
Including why Vice Chancellor Andrew Vann is on sabbatical in such tumultuous times.
But if, or when, he does come back it won’t necessarily be for long. Although Professor Vann’s contract runs to December ’21 his job was advertised in June and applications have closed. (CMM June 16, 19).
Uni Melbourne warns “approximately” 450 positions will go
VC Duncan Maskell warns revenue will be down $1bn over three years, which means “our current rate of expenditure is unsustainable”
the cause: “significantly reduced revenue predictions resulting from reduced student enrolments, reductions in research income and reductions in commercial revenue.”
the consequence: “we anticipate that we will lose approximately 450 continuing positions across the university in both the academic and professional workforce”
that’s positions: not necessarily people. CMM asked the university whether “continuing positions” meant full-time equivalents, which can be made up of multiple individuals working part-time. The university responded it is full time equivalent positions, and that, “is an estimate.”
“We’re not yet in a position to confirm how many individuals this will impact … and we are working through plans at a divisional level. This work will inform the university wide change plan. For the same reasons, we aren’t in a position to confirm the number of casuals and fixed term era who will be affected,” the university stated.
how bad things are: in recent weeks, there has been a push on campus for the university to detail its financial situation. Professor Maskell now points staff to on-line information on how reserves are being used and summarises the situation, “the university will run at a significant financial loss in both 2020 and 2021. We will draw down around $350 million from our reserves to help manage the cash impact of this. We will significantly reduce capital expenditure, with $330 million already deferred in 2020, and we will borrow up to $600 million to assist with managing cash flow.”
But even so, “we expect that towards the end of this year we will be parting with talented friends and colleagues”
what’s next: the review of organisation structure will be run at division level. Consultation with the union will be managed by the chancellery and start next month.
alternatives: The university previously asked staff to give up a 2.2 per cent enterprise agreement pay rise, which 62 per cent of people voting rejected. It would not have made much difference overall – management estimated it would save $30m (CMM June 10).
Victoria U talking on savings strategy
Vice Chancellor Peter Dawkins engaging with the union
He briefed staff yesterday, confirming previous estimates of earnings $50m under budget this year. But with the second wave of COVID-19 in Melbourne Professor Dawkins now does not expect international student numbers to bounce back as hoped, meaning VU will be down a further $20m next in 2021.
So far, the university has found $30m in non-staff expenditure reductions, which Professor Dawkins says is the “equivalent of 120 full-time equivalent positions.” However, he adds it is now time for a voluntary redundancy programme and other staff-agreed cuts to conditions and to consider a variation to the enterprise agreement to reduce wage increases, “with a view to saving significant numbers of jobs that would otherwise need to go.”
The VC says VU has opened discussions with the National Tertiary Education Union for a local job protection framework. This involves union and management agreeing on temporary cuts to conditions and a freeze on pay rises in return for a commitment to protect jobs. Such arrangements are already agreed at seven or so universities.
But wait! There’s more!
Yesterday CMM reported James Cook U expects to make $6m in staff savings. But JCU demands it be known the total from measures in place for 2020 is an estimated $6m. Newly proposed ones (notably staff forgoing an enterprise agreement pay rise) could save a further $5m this year.
Emily Banks (ANU) receives the President’s Award from the Thoracic Society of ANZ.
Megan Munsie (Uni Melbourne) joins Science and Technology Australia’s STEM sector policy committee.