Union at Macquarie U on faculty closure: the why is dubious, the how doubtful

Management is acting as if it is “merely a business decision” the NTEU warns

Bad idea: The union sets out problems with the way MU’s leadership is abolishing the Faculty of Human Sciences and redistributing constituent departments – suggesting it is a bad idea all-over.  “The university is essentially removing a high-performing, successful and cohesive organisational element, disrupting its operations, the research, teaching and administrative work of staff and the sense of continuity and belonging enjoyed by the Faculty’s students, for a relatively paltry claimed annual saving (in terms of the overall university budget) of $4-5m,” National Tertiary Education Union branch vice president Cathy Rytmeister tells university HR head Nicole Gower.

Big impact: The timing isn’t terrific from the union’s perspective. Ms Rytmeister reminds management that closing the faculty is occurring as the new university-wide syllabus kicks in. “After all the work carried out on the MQ2020 curriculum and the careful setting-up of systems to manage not only the new courses but the transition of students, we now find that much of this systems-work has to be redone. … this is particularly distressing for those staff who have already spent 18 months going ‘above and beyond’ to bring the MQ2020 curriculum and its supporting systems from idea to reality.”

It could be worse for staff: Ms Rytmeister says the union is “greatly encouraged” that there will be no forced redundancies and “acknowledges the considerable efforts of HR staff.”

But management should have asked people who know: “It is  “extraordinary,” she says that Academic Senate and its committees, “who are responsible for governance of the academic mission and operations of the university, were not consulted at all prior to the announcement of the proposal change. The university executive is treating a major structural change of an academic unit as merely a business decision; it is not.”



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