Staff members at the Australian National University say they need more details on the university’s financial position as they face the prospect of losing 215 jobs on top of 250 voluntary separations and hundreds of casual staff being told they have no work this year.
The National Tertiary Education Union organised a protest and an open letter to demand further information and data, including how the management arrived at the target of $103 million in savings each year from 2021, an approved 2019 annual report and modelling for enrolments and revenue.
NTEU delegate and casual representative on ANU branch Lina Koleilat said staff were feeling demoralised and frustrated during the two-week consultation period.
“A lot of staff are very stressed and demoralised, because now everybody knows we’re going to lose 215 people but nobody knows where these numbers are going to come from so everybody could be a target, which really affects the morale and well being of staff on campus,” she said.
“After you stop hiring casuals, how much have we saved? We have no idea. After [ANU executives] take a pay cut, how much have you saved? We have no idea.
“The university is not being very transparent about the process.”
At the rally on campus on Tuesday, librarians Alisha Nolan and Rachel Karasick said staffing cuts were already taking a toll on the services offered by the ANU’s five libraries.
Three library branch managers and one sub-branch manger have taken voluntary separations this year as well as the manager of ANU Press, university records and digital literacy.
No casual library staff were employed in semester two and libraries no longer opened on weekends or outside standard office hours.
Ms Nolan said it was a challenge to keep libraries open and the remaining staff felt their work and services were not valued.
Vice-president of the ANU Students’ Association Madhumitha Janagaraja said the university had flagged some upcoming changes to courses and degrees for 2021 without consultation with students.
She said other services, such as a peer tutoring program that had proven to be effective, were on the chopping board under the budget cuts.
“Cuts to academic staff means larger class sizes and our overworked tutors and lecturers have already been quite strung out and at capacity during the online learning transition.”
Ms Janagaraja said there was a lack of trust and respect between the university management and staff and students.
“What’s important to note is that this document and Wednesday’s forum mark the commencement of a thorough and extensive consultation process with our community about the ANU Recovery Plan,” the spokesperson said.
“The university, as always, is committed to consulting with our staff and the NTEU and has published this initial proposal in the spirit of full transparency.”
Staff forums and meetings will be held over the next month at a college and portfolio level.
Change management plans expected to be issued to colleges and portfolios on October 6.