THE University of Newcastle will consolidate or discontinue 530 subjects - around a quarter of its total offering - as part of its course optimisation program.
UON Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) Mark Hoffman told staff on Monday eight undergraduate degree and 14 postgraduate degree programs would also be discontinued from 2021.
UON will suspend four postgraduate degree programs in creative industries for 2021 due to low student numbers.
"Tertiary education and the expectations of students and what the nation needs have changed dramatically over the last five to ten years, but particularly as a result of COVID," Professor Hoffman told the Newcastle Herald.
"There's considerable need to have students doing more work integrated learning, so their studies together with a work placement or together with an industry problem... we had too many small courses to actually achieve that.
"We have put ourselves in a position where UON is in a very good position to future focus its courses."
The Herald has previously reported UON had identified 500 subjects for potential suspension, consolidation or discontinuation, along with three undergraduate programs and 19 postgraduate programs.
It will also consolidate its five faculties into three colleges.
"It's not a simple thing where you look at the courses and put a texta through some, you look at when you can bring a couple of courses together because they're teaching similar content in different parts of the university, or you might sort of look at things where there's a bit of content in one course and another and so you might take three courses and turn them into two," he said.
"So it's really hard up front to work out exactly what's going to happen and through the consultation process it ended up being about 530."
Professor Hoffman said UON "don't know anything definitive" regarding how many staff will be affected and how many jobs will be cut.
"What's happening now is the heads of schools, the ones that run the disciplines, are looking at their whole workforce going forward... so it's very difficult to say definitively where that will land at this stage."
The discontinued undergraduate programs are creative industries; creative industries/innovation and entrepreneurship; technology (renewable energy systems); mechatronics engineering (honours)/business; mechatronics engineering (honours)/science; and fine arts (honours). Information technology (honours) and computer science (honours) will be combined and replaced with computing (honours).
National Tertiary Education Union Newcastle branch president Dan Conway said the union "continues to be gravely concerned this current course cuts process and restructure of colleges is simply driven by a financial imperative to cut staffing costs, in order to achieve some pre-determined budgetary outcome to fund building programs".
"Members are telling us decisions are being made simply on financial issues rather than quality of education and academic considerations," he said.
"Do we want to end up with a hollowed out shell of a university education?"