THE University of Newcastle will shed 60 full time equivalent positions from its schools in the final leg of its restructure, to help it achieve a "reset of our cost base".
Vice Chancellor Alex Zelinsky told staff on Tuesday he had endorsed proposed changes to UON's schools, which will reduce costs by around $20.4 million each year.
"This has been a challenging process, but one that has been necessary to ensure we remain a viable and vibrant institution that will proudly serve our students and communities well into the future," Professor Zelinsky said.
"Over the past three months, our leadership team has received and responded to almost 4000 pieces of feedback. More than 200 changes were made to the schools' structures alone as a direct result of consultation."
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He said UON had "disestablished" 150.3 full time equivalent [FTE] academic positions, but 52 per cent of these were vacant or would become vacant this year through UON's Early Retirement Scheme or the end of fixed term contracts.
He said UON was creating 92.8 new FTE roles "in areas of priority and growth, many of these for early career academics". The net reduction of academic roles is 57.5 FTE.
Professor Zelinsky said 64 FTE professional staff roles had been "disestablished", but 42 per cent of these were or would be vacant in 2021.
He said UON had created 61.2 FTE professional roles, meaning a net reduction of 2.8 FTE.
"The changes I have endorsed for our schools will reduce costs by around $20.4 million per year," he said.
"Combined with the changes in the divisions and colleges, and other property and non-salary savings, we have been able to meet our target of $35 million in annual recurrent savings.
"This reset of our cost base will allow us to pursue the goals of our strategic plan and ensure our long-term financial sustainability."
He said UON would soon start recruitment and "provide as many opportunities as we can for existing staff to fill the new roles".
Affected staff can also register their interest in a voluntary separation package.
"I appreciate that the change process has brought with it significant upheaval, and remind you that support is available should you or a colleague need it," he said.
In May, Professor Zelinsky said 400 people were "potentially affected" by the changes to its colleges, schools and divisions, "but out of that there will be a net reduction of 120 jobs".
UON's Enabling Change project director Brian Jones said staff raised matters including equity imbalances during consultation.
"We can now take this bigger picture into account as we implement the approved changes," Mr Jones said.
"We are actively looking at ways to address gender imbalances through recruitment in the workforce and identifying additional opportunities for Indigenous targeted roles."
National Tertiary Education Union Newcastle branch acting president Dr Terrence Summers said while some jobs were saved after consultation, many staff felt feedback wasn't considered and that there wasn't clear and objective criteria for establishing which positions would be lost.
He said the NTEU never agreed the change was necessary at this time and "certainly not in this manner".
"The university is still in profit, is likely to remain in profit for years to come even under the current, difficult funding environment created by the federal government," he said.
"The output of the change is a brief reset to the university's financial position. It is not a structural change. It is not a long term fix. Is the university going to be going through this sort of process again in a few short years?"
He said while there was a net loss of 60.3 FTE positions - which is "hard to reconcile" with $20.4 million in savings - the number of affected staff who will either lose their jobs or be forced to reapply for new ones was greater than 200.
"There is a real risk, and some evidence of, psychological trauma created by this change."
University of Newcastle Students' Association president Luka Harrison said students were also "very disappointed" about the changes to the schools.
"Whilst we're thankful that the university did make an attempt to consult with students late in the process and some changes were made as a result of this, students feel that not much of their feedback was taken on board," he said.
"The changes still include devastating staff cuts that will be detrimental to the quality of education available at the university.
"UNSA stands in solidarity with the NTEU and staff."
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