THE University of Newcastle has unveiled a major organisational restructure and a staff reduction scheme to help cope with what it says are financial costs of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The university says it expects a revenue reduction of $58 million this year and says it had already warned staff it needed to find $35 million in savings next year.
It is unclear yet how many jobs will be affected in the restructure, with the university saying it has already reached "in principle" agreement with unions on campus.
Under the plan, the university says it intends to consolidate five faculties into three to save on administration costs. It also intends to "reduce complexity and overlaps in courses".
The Vice Chancellor Alex Zelinsky advised staff of the changes in a web hookup today, and a statement was released at 3pm today.
"The current faculties are the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment; the Faculty of Education and Arts; the Faculty of Business and Law; the Faculty of Science; and the Faculty of Health and Medicine," the statement said.
"The naming and new make-up of the three groups will be determined in the coming months, with the change due to be completed by the end of the year. The measure is aimed at reducing administrative overhead."
The statement said the university would offer "fewer, better-resourced courses and programs that offer more student-focused education".
Professor Zelinksy said the measures were aimed at achieving financial sustainability and protecting as many jobs as possible.
"We know that we need to achieve savings and my goal is to do so in a way that aligns to our strategic plan and protects as many jobs as possible," Professor Zelinsky said in today's statement.
"Our negotiations with unions must conclude by August 10 and I'm committed to providing an update to staff by that date.
"We continue to see strong interest in our courses for Semester 2 and we know people are looking to our University to help them retrain and re-skill and help our regions recover from the impact COVID-19 is having.
The university said negotiations were continuing with "unions", saying it had reached "in-principle agreement on measures to reduce annual leave, long service leave and to offer an early retirement scheme".
"These measures include a requirement for staff to take ten additional days of their annual leave in 2021," the statement said.
"The early retirement scheme is proposed as an option for staff 60 years of age and above and would include incentives to take up the scheme.
"Negotiations continue regarding delaying staff salary increases that are due in September 2020 and September 2021 and delaying salary increments that happen on the anniversary dates of commencement."
The Newcastle Herald is seeking comment from the main union on campus, the National Tertiary Education Union.