THE University of Newcastle (UON) is forecast to miss out on almost $60 million this year as it grapples with the fallout from COVID-19.
Vice Chancellor Alex Zelinsky AO advised staff in his most recent update that UON was expecting a forecast loss of income - from international student fees, commercial income, interest and dividends - "in the order of" $58 million for 2020.
A UON spokesperson said Professor Zelinsky was planning to provide another update after the university council meets in June to discuss how it will achieve the savings.
National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) Newcastle branch president Dan Conway said UON should not use the figure to justify cuts to staff positions or conditions.
"It should be noted that the 'shortfall' does not mean the university will make a loss of $58 million," he said. "
"Instead, it will impact the budgeted surplus by $58 million, which may result in a net loss.
"Interestingly, it is almost the exact amount of the net surplus in the 2017 financial year. Therefore, arguably, staff have already - in previous years - prepared the university for this crisis.
"The university has significant cash reserves and investments available, along with substantial lines of credit which the university can use to minimise the impact on staff.
"We believe the university will not be able to justify requiring any cuts to staff conditions or staffing levels as a result of the crisis in light of the decision to pursue $168million capital expenditure this year."
The figure comes as Deakin University vice chancellor Iain Martin told staff on Monday it expected to lose between $250 and $300 million in revenue next year and would cut 400 jobs.
Professor Zelinsky wrote to staff on May 15 saying UON's financial situation was "serious but by no means as dire as other universities are facing".
"We started the year in a strong place, with zero debt and less exposure to affected student markets than some of our counterparts," he wrote.
"However, the move to online teaching has come with additional expenses and we have lost international student revenue.
"These impacts, we will need to mitigate with savings.
"It's important to know that our situation is unique to us and that actions needed in another university may not be our own course to recovery.
"We've taken a couple of early steps which we felt would make a difference. For the next while, staff recruitment will be by exception only and approved by me.
"We are also reviewing our capital investment program and considering which projects can be delayed or phased to benefit from a potential state/federal government "shovel ready" capital works program to stimulate local regional economies."
Professor Zelinsky has ruled out UON signing up to the National Jobs Protection Framework "in its current form", which was negotiated between the NTEU and a group of vice-chancellors.