Revealed: the jobs James Cook University wants to cut

James Cook U is, “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.” And that’s the spin the university was putting on its predicament yesterday.

Management has accordingly announced proposed changes, including course cuts and changes, investment in online teaching and “consolidation of staffing and curricula.” This follows academic organisation changes in 2016.

The division of tropical environments and societies is again up for a new arrangement. “Creating critical mass by consolidating areas of expertise and infrastructure, and reducing and/or streamlining program offerings are required to position the division and respond to flex in response to changes in student numbers.” the change proposal states.

The change document identifies some spectacular drops in demand; including a halving of MBA enrolments at the Cairns campus and a two-thirds decline in creative arts programmes at Townsville and Cairns.

The Research Services Directorate also faces change, and will “recalibrate,” “to reflect the changing nature of research funding and will be increasing its focus on industry-led research and consultancies.”

All up the university proposes cutting: three academic positions in business, law and governance, two in science and engineering, five support roles in tropical environments and societies, six academic jobs in healthcare sciences, five positions from the student services directorate, two from learning, teaching and student engagement, three from library services, three from research services. An indigenous careers adviser position will also go. Management says the new proposals could cost 32 jobs and there will be a two-week consultation.

Yesterday’s announcement was not news to campus critics who point to less than flash financials and changes at the top. Last year JCU recorded a small loss ($4.3m) but revenue was down by $36m to $513m. In February VC Sandra Harding announced a leadership restructure, following the departure last year of two DVCs, Sally Kift and Robyn McGuiggan.

“While the University has already implemented a number of steps to reduce costs across the organisation. the proposed changes reflect cost efficiencies through the consolidation of resources and discontinuation of programs and services, leading to some positions being no longer required,” the proposal states. “


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