Jobs, courses face axe as SCU tries to save millions

SOUTHERN Cross University has flagged cuts to courses and staffing in a bid to cut millions in spending, an internal email seen by The Northern Star reveals.

The email from senior deputy vice-chancellor Bill MacGillivray says cutting whole courses from the university could not be ruled out.

Professor MacGillivray suggests in the email savings of $2 million will come from cutting around 300 units (subjects) and drastically reducing the number of casual academic staff. In order to do so, he expects permanent academic staff will have to increase their teaching load by about 10%.

The university is looking to slash $6 million from its 2015 budget.

The email comes as the National Tertiary Education Union asks the NSW auditor-general and ombudsman to investigate the university, claiming SCU depleted its cash reserves and borrowed millions for new buildings at the Gold Coast and Lismore campuses - at a time when "enrolments were falling off the cliff"

In a letter to the NSW auditor-general and ombudsman, the union says: 

"NTEU holds a reasonable belief that there may be serious and substantial waste occurring at SCU.

"The NTEU is concerned about the continuing viability of SCU and that a succession of poor management decisions has led to the current financial crisis.

"The NTEU is also concerned that SCU cost-cutting measures (ie mass redundancies) are not the solution and are having an adverse effect on local jobs and the local economy."

The union has lodged a GIPA (Government Information Public Access) application seeking a range of documents relating to governance, finances and other matters within SCU.

NTEU spokesman Christian O'Callaghan said the university council knew the sector faced an uncertain future and that some prudent financial management would have avoided the current situation where the university is now looking at cutting a further 50 jobs.

Vice Chancellor Peter Lee said in a statement 16 positions at the university had been identified for redundancy and up to 50 needed to be found across the university to get the budget back in the black.

Prof Lee said SCU's financial position was the culmination of a number of factors, internal and external.

"Our international enrolments were impacted by a strategic decision to exit a number of international collaborations. This reduced our income. At the same time our staff costs have increased," Prof Lee said

Topics:  southern cross university

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