La Trobe University will fire 200 full-time professionals and academicians as it has incurred huge losses which can be evaluated up to hundreds of millions of dollars because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The teaching and non-teaching staff of the University will gain further knowledge about the latest round of redundancies at 9.30 am on Wednesday. The employees who will surely lose their jobs have already been informed about it personally on Tuesday. The job-cutting program that has been initiated by the University is likely to affect the professional staff more than the academic staff, who are more prone to suffer job losses. The varsity has made the jobs of a few employees redundant and they will have a chance to apply for new, soon-to-be-created jobs.
The University followed the same pattern last year when more than 300 full-time professionals and employees lost their jobs. But the current move is still smaller in proportion than the previously forecast reduction of up to 350 jobs.
The University has made many expenditure cuts and the new phenomenon of conducting online classes popularised in the Covid-19 pandemic has led to many jobs being saved.
A university spokesperson commented that it is too early to talk about the redundancy clause in the public and assured that the staff would be consulted before any decision is finalised.
“The proposed changes will result in both new opportunities and, regrettably, redundancies,” the spokesperson said. “Where possible, redeployment will be the first option for people displaced in the proposed structure.”
Alysia Rex, a first-year student coordinator and a part of the professional staff confirmed that her job will also be threatened by the redundancy clause.
Rex, President of National Tertiary Education Union’s La Trobe branch quipped that the employees of the varsity are at the juncture of losing their jobs because of ‘university mismanagement’.
“The pandemic is a huge [financial] headwind but we weren’t prepared, we didn’t have life jackets, essentially,” she said. “University workers are paying the price for mismanagement and it’s really disappointing because when you start cutting away you diminish the university; all that the university is, is the people who work there.”
Following the job protection framework agreed upon by the higher education union and a number of universities in 2020, the staff of the concerned varsities took 10% pay cuts which ended last month.
La Trobe was red-inked last year when it publicly accepted a deficit of more than 8 million dollars, one of its biggest financial setbacks in recent times. In 2020, it squandered $20 million terminating academic staff and $25 million in termination emoluments to non-academic staff. The varsity also increased expenditure on external consultants in 2020.
La Trobe’s Vice-Chancellor and Professor John Dewar, who is also the Chairman of peak body Universities Australia, has admitted that financial outcomes for 2021 are expected to be significantly worse, with international students still unable to come back to campuses.