Jobs to go at James Cook U

The long promised (CMM June 27, August 25) proposed professional staff savings plan was released yesterday

more jobs go than arrive: of 1313 people on staff, 78 will be made redundant, 15 fixed term positions will end at the conclusion of contracts, 52 vacant jobs will be abolished. However there are 30 new positions.

changes for many: Around 900 others will move work units, have reporting lines changed or get a new position title.

but for most it could be worse:  Only seven staff have their position reclassified.  And management states “a direct impact on overall casual staffing” is not anticipated.

why it is happening: Student load is down from 16 135 EFTS in 2015 to 14 031 in 2021, “with further decline in 2022.”  “The underlying issues of scale are not a temporary pandemic induced feature,” the proposal states, meaning “covering our fixed costs now represents an unsustainable proportion of discretionary income.”

and it’s not over yet: “change processes during the next 12‐18 months cannot be ruled out due to JCU’s financial position and ongoing impacts from exogenous factors, such as national economic conditions’ influence on domestic student enrolments,” the change proposal states. “Processes may also be necessitated by process and system improvements. Where possible, staff reductions will be through natural attrition; however, further redundancies can’t be discounted.”

to which the union replies: “JCU staff have been here before,” says Bronwen Foster, from the National Tertiary Education Union. “The continual rounds of redundancies, both voluntary and forced, have not improved the ability of James Cook University to attract students.”

indeed, they have not: In 2018 there were job losses and course cuts, ““to ensure the university is more responsive to changing student demand and isfinancially sustainable.”

“We know that the context in which JCU is operating is changing, impacted by increased competition, reduced student numbers, loss of external income sources including reduced Commonwealth funding, and a highly volatile and uncertain public policy environment. JCU needs to respond to these challenges,” Provost Chris Cocklin said, (CMM July 9 2018.)