Minister to Charles Sturt U: let the sun shine on the books

A federal minister is cross with Charles Sturt U

Andrew Gee has Charles Sturt U campuses in his electorate of Calare. He is also a junior federal minister, for decentralisation and regional education which ensures he likes to know what is happening at CSU.

And just now he isn’t happy. He hasn’t been for months. Back in April VC Andy Vann (now on sabbatical) announced an $80m deficit and consequential cuts to come (CMM May 5). To which Mr Gee responded he had been “given varying explanations” (but) “nobody from the university has been able to explain with any clarity precisely how that figure of $80m could be a direct impact on CSU’s bottom line,” (CMM June 3).

The university took the hint, with council announcing an audit. On Wednesday, the university stated it had already responded to the minister, with KPMG appointed “to undertake an independent and external audit.”

But Mr Gee is still not happy saying yesterday the statement is “silent on key points.”

Students and staff have been approaching my office and are increasingly concerned about the apparent disarray that is stemming from the lack of open and transparent information about the university’s financial position.

“Now is the time for the university to open up the books and to shine some light on its finances, management and operations. Sunlight is the best form of disinfectant. “

Mr Gee is keen to assist regional universities. Last month he convened a meeting of their VCs and chancellors (CMM July 15). “It is crucial that we listen and understand the unique challenges faced by country universities, while also positioning them to take full advantage of future opportunities,” he said then (CMM July 15).

But as for CSU, it needs to “audit in full.”

“Only then will students, staff and the communities which CSU serves have a clear picture about its sustainability and how the university will navigate the future which is vital in maintaining community confidence and government trust,” he warned.