Melbourne-based Deakin University is looking at slimming down staff numbers by 400 in a bid to cut down on employment costs as the Covid-19 pandemic takes a bite out of the university sector.
Speaking to staff on Monday, Deakin University vice chancellor Iain Martin said the university would be spending more than it earns over the next 18 to 36 months, and a drop in revenue of $250 million to $300 million was expected for the year.
The university spends 55 per cent of total revenue on staff, he added.
“While we will do everything possible to minimise staff impacts, we must look at our employment costs as well as continuing to minimise other expenditure to adjust to where we need to be,” he said.
“We will now proceed with our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes a new Strategic Plan, a balanced approach to reducing costs and debt and a phased approach to staff reductions.
“These measures will ensure Deakin continues to deliver for our students and communities while securing as many ongoing jobs as possible.”
In total, 400 positions will be made redundant, 300 of which are currently filled and 100 positions that are vacant. Deakin University employs 10,500 staff, and the proposed job cuts will represent 3 per cent of headcount.
Martin said the university had considered but ultimately rejected the National Tertiary Education Union’s job protection framework, stating that it would “constrain [the university’s] ability to decide what is in the best short, medium, and longer-term interests”.
Enacting the NTEU’s framework would mean “stand-downs, forced leave, forced reduction of hours”, and pay cuts of up to 15 per cent, Martin added.
“Our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is not going to be a V-shaped one.
“The approach we are proposing, combining debt and cost savings, will ensure that Deakin is in the best position to preserve as many jobs as possible in the medium term, rather than simply seeking to get to a notionally balanced budget over the next 12 months.”