ACU “meeting the challenge” with quiet cuts

The Australian Catholic University is quietly cutting costs, with a big programme that isn’t attracting much external attention. Back in April the university established a comprehensive savings process. It is said to be needed because of infrastructure costs to meet increased student numbers and the freeze on federally funded places at 2017 levels, announced in December’s mid-year economic forecasts. According to an internal ACU planning document, “growth already in progress will not be additionally funded. As a result, all areas of the university have to make significant changes to their operations to meet the demands of the new financially constrained environment.”

And management meant it. Vice Chancellor Greg Craven briefed staff in February-March, with a “meeting the challenge” process now rolling out across ACU.

According to Chief Operating Office Stephen Weller, “as a result of MYEFO, the university has taken steps to reduce expenditure, which unfortunately does include some staff cuts. Each affected organisational unit is undergoing a change management plan and staff are kept informed of the process and of the support that is available to them.”

Teaching and nursing are widely speculated to have taken staffing hits. In the business school three professorial positions were targeted, both to save money and to create career paths for middle-level staff, “who have high levels of corporate knowledge and understanding.”

But the cuts are not the same across all areas. While casuals are gone, or going, in at least one faculty, Dr Weller says ““ACU employs a number of casuals across the whole university and has no intention to discontinue their employment.”


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