Macquarie U VC makes case for cuts

Dowton tells staff why savings are essential

The university is forced to make savings due to a decline in domestic and international enrolments, Vice Chancellor S Bruce Dowton explained to staff last night.

Professor Dowton pointed to:

* “a constraint” on Commonwealth supported places

* the “highly competitive” domestic postgraduate market. “We cannot expect sudden and sustained growth until new programmes have been tried, tested and gain traction and renown.”

* international student markets , which “have become very challenging and volatile”

“We are projecting enrolments in 2020 will be flat. The lack of student growth has a significant and abrupt impact on our financial health,” he writes.

Still spending: Professor Dowton also points to “significant, important and expensive long-term work” already underway including;

* renewed curriculum and pedagogy

* expanding research in “key disciplines”, nominating engineering and computer science

* “to address historic deficits and under-investment, including in our digital infrastructure and in the built environment on this remarkable campus”

Savings to come: Professor Dowton added the proposal to abolish the Faculty of Human Sciences and relocate constituent departments could save $4m-$5m a year.

And then there’s the hospital: He also acknowledges questions about the impact of Macquarie University Hospital on the university’s finances, pointing to growth in research income for the faculty it is part of, and adding, “the decision to establish the hospital was part of a bold strategy by the prior leadership team to accelerate the performance of research.”

“With the relatively recent integration of all aspects of care delivery under MQ Health, the overall performance of the hospital is on an ascendant trajectory,” Professor Dowton states.

Why it’s happening: Last week Professor Dowton advised university management that the financial plan now being changed assumed a $28.6m deficit this year, “closer to break-even” in 2020 with an operating surplus in 2021.” But that this was “based on a continuation of growth in enrolments.”

“The steps we are currently taking, along with the options being explored, are designed to place the university on a more sustainable footing. Hopefully this makes clear the need for remedial steps for the near-term financial health of the university,” he added last night.

Below: what worries staff


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