Macquarie U proposes a $25m saving on academic staff costs

Management is asking for volunteers, but if there aren’t enough forced redundancies will follow

The hit is on top of $13.5 saved by voluntary redundancies across the university this year. The $25.1m now required is split across all four faculties; Arts ($5.5m), Science and Engineering ($7.9m), Medicine Health, Human Sciences ($4.3m) and the Business School ($7.4m)

Vice Chancellor S Bruce Dowton sets out what management proposes in a paper sent to staff yesterday.

The university has re-opened VRs for academic staff, with applications to be accepted until January 29. But in case heads need to roll, management makes it plain that selections for sacking will be based on more than what staff cost, including, “exploring opportunities to strategically align the academic workforce with the teaching and research work of the university into the future, including building capacity for ongoing innovation in how we undertake our teaching mission.”

In the first instance, faculties will decide where to look for their own savings. Faculty committees will then assess staff by recent performance on the university’s five promotion criteria.

Individuals would be allowed to submit a two-page statement, but sparing them an extra indignity, Professor Dowton assures academics, “we are not proposing interviews.”

But while these proposed cuts are for continuing staff, there is also unspecified bad news for casuals, “it is anticipated that the predicted reduction in student enrolments will lead to a reduction in casual academic hours available. This is highly variable across the university and is not proposed to be included in this framework.” However fixed-term academics are “in-scope”.

The new proposal for exits by academics follows a previous a prop for professional staff with a $25m saving in 2021, There are also separate change plans for IT, Finance and the PVC Learning and Teaching portfolio.

And that’s not the end of it – the university’s briefing paper states it could still need $38.3m in more savings, “this may require further change in 2022.