Uncertain: an estimated 200 jobs could be lost at La Trobe University in a proposed institution-wide change to operations. Photo: KATIE MARTIN

Job cuts proposed for La Trobe

July 22, 2021 BY
STAFF at the Bendigo campus of La Trobe University could face the possibility of losing their jobs following the release of a change proposal last week.

The proposed changes to how the university operates could see around 200 job losses across the institution, with the exact number of Bendigo staff potentially impacted yet to be confirmed.

A statement put out by the University said the proposal was made to “secure our financial position in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic” as they forecast a 2021 revenue drop of $165 million.

“The change proposal has been developed to ensure La Trobe is in a strong position for future growth,” a statement from the university said.

The release also said a decline in the number of international students taking up study with intuition during the pandemic was a major contributing factor to the revenue loss.

The job losses estimated in the change proposal follow two rounds of voluntary redundancies last year.

Some 300 new jobs could be created as part of the proposal, which the university said would address workforce needs.

“Where possible, redeployment will be the first option for people displaced in the proposed structure,” a statement said.

As part of the plan potential job losses could have a greater impact on support roles rather than academic.

Changes could include the university replacing their current two-college model with a single office, as well as the consolidation of some disciplines and departments.

The Bendigo-based Rural Health School could expand, however, to include pharmacy and biomedical science studies.

About one third of the proposed new jobs would be “location-independent”, meaning roles previously open only to Bundoora campus staff could be offered to all workers.

National Tertiary Education Union La Trobe Branch president Alysia Rex said a lack of Commonwealth Government support for the university sector over the last 18 months contributed to La Trobe’s announcement.

“The Federal Government has shown complete disregard for the university sector during the COVID pandemic and this puts the university in a difficult position,” she said.

“I urge [La Trobe vice-chancellor] Professor Dewar to work with the union to find alternatives to involuntary redundancies.

“Staff have shown great loyalty and sacrifice over the past year and deserve better.”

Federal Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters echoed Ms Rex’s comments and said the Federal Government were at fault for the proposed job losses due to “bad government policy”.

“First, they excluded universities from accessing JobKeeper which would have saved jobs last year and this year,” she said. “Second, they haven’t scrapped the cap on the number of domestic students.

“The way to help universities would have been to uncap domestic places to replace the international students that they’re not getting.”

The university said decisions on the change proposal will be made following two more weeks of organisation-wide consultation and a further period of analysis and review.