Uni SA, commits to “preserving employment”

Vice Chancellor David Lloyd sets out the COVID-19 situation and tells staff, “we’ve got this”

 Bad news but not for jobs: The University of South Australia is projecting COVID-19 revenue losses through to end 2021 ranging from $30, to $120m this year, compounding next. However, Professor Lloyd assured staff Friday, “we are committed to preserving employment levels in the university as our highest priority.”  He adds that although he is taking a 20 per cent pay cut and his senior staff 10 per cent, “at this time we are not seeking to reduce anyone else’s salary.”

Yes, staff savings: “could further assist in balancing our books, while still preserving our employment levels.” They could include “pausing” salary increment rises, reducing the university’s leave liabilities and “in the worst of worst cases” reduced FTE fractions.

But everybody gets a say: “Should we ever need to implement those measures, it will only be following frank and open conversation and consultation among us all, and a collective decision to progress those changes which are necessary to preserve employment in the organisation.”

And discussions would start from a better place than many: Professor Lloyd outlines savings that can be made but adds there is no big capex, nil debt, “good” domestic enrolments and “a diversified international student cohort” both, “the best we have ever had.” “This doesn’t confer immunity on us from revenue losses, it just positions us to weather them differently from some other institutions,” he says,

Lloyds take:  The vice chancellor warns he still might have to do what other vice chancellors are doing and, “write formally to staff (to) foreshadow significant interventions and downturn. I could easily pen such a letter to our community. But he adds;

“In my Zoom meetings, I have a backdrop snapshot of the giant boulder rolling down the ramp towards Indiana Jones, a still image grabbed from Raiders. It sits over my shoulder rolling towards the camera’s perspective. I call it the COVID-19 boulder. Spoiler alert. It’s outrun. We’ve got this.”