More job cuts on the way for Victorian university staff

The casualisation of the university sector makes it easier to sack staff. Photo: National Tertiary Education Union/Facebook

Federation University announced a restructure of its academic portfolio in the last week of November. Amid ongoing job cuts in tertiary education in Victoria, casual academic, administrative and technical workers are going to be offered redundancies.

Federation University is the seventh university nationally to shed positions at the latter part of the year. It comes not long after news of hundreds of positions being cut at Deakin and Latrobe Universities.

Federation University’s decision is going to be hard on staff and students. The new cuts follow the thousands cut last year due to the lack of federal government support during the pandemic.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) Federation University branch president Dr Mathew Abbott said the “organisational change papers” released on November 22 are full of ambition and aspiration but lack substance and concrete information.

 “We don’t know how many redundancies are being sought, or in which areas, or whether compulsory redundancies will be pushed through after this round of VRs [voluntary redundancies].”

“This is causing a great deal of stress and anxiety for staff members concerned about their jobs and the quality of education we provide to students in the regions. Withholding information about the scale of these cuts appears to be a deliberate strategy, which is cruel and unacceptable,” he told Green Left.

The NTEU has described Federation University’s corporatisation as a high-risk strategy to turn around the fortunes of the state’s only regionally headquartered university.

NTEU National President Dr Alison Barnes said: “From the proposal, it is unclear whether this is a cosmetic rebranding or an attempt to change the way tertiary education is delivered at Federation University. The consequence of job cuts is increased workloads and less support for staff and students.”

The long-anticipated return of international students to lift the fortunes of universities and stave off further job losses is unlikely to make any substantial difference until the second half of next year at best.

Australia has the lowest rate of public investment in higher education of any country in the OECD and the federal government is unlikely to change. The union anticipates further cuts to the sector in Victoria next year.