The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the Education Action Group (EAG) of the University of Sydney Students Representative Council (SRC) have called a joint rally for Wednesday March 16 at 1pm in opposition to management's restructuring of Sydney University.
The staff and student protest was called in response to the Chancellor, Belinda Hutchinson announcing shortly before Christmas that the university senate had passed a dramatic restructure of the university. The announced proposal included a reduction in the number of senate fellows from 22 to 15, a merger of the 10 faculties and six schools into six faculties and three schools and a drastic reduction in the number of undergraduate degrees on offer, in order to move towards four-year degrees and a vertical degree structure.
The faculty mergers have caused considerable outrage in the university community. The announcement that the Sydney College of the Arts will be moved from Callan Park onto main campus in the next three years and merge administration under Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences (FASS) has been nearly universally opposed by students, staff and alumni as it is expected to result in the loss of essential facilities and a globally recognised studio oriented model of research. The internationally renowned Faculty of Education and Social Work will also be merged with FASS despite widespread opposition from the dean, students and staff.
The Vice Chancellor acknowledged that the restructure would be “traumatic” and expressed in meetings with students and staff that he was greatly displeased with the number of general staff in contrast to Academics. The NTEU and EAG believe this indicates deep general and administrative staff cuts will accompany the closure of faculties and the centralisation of administration.
The proposed restructuring of the university and its senate has resulted in community outrage and criticism in the mainstream media. The restructure of the University of Sydney also follows a national trend that includes the staff cuts at UWA and the proposed implementation of the 'Flexible Academic Program' at Melbourne University as administrations respond to the critical underfunding of the sector.
Student and staff unions universally oppose the restructure and the corporatisation of the university. The March 16 rally will begin at 1pm outside the Carslaw Building on Eastern Avenue before marching to the Vice Chancellor's office in the quadrangle.