Uni staff and students protest job cuts

Planned protests are pushing back against proposed Federation University job cuts that will see up to 20 per cent of the workforce impacted.
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National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at Federation University (FedUni) in regional Victoria held an all-member meeting this week – vowing to join protests at the university’s three major campuses next week to oppose the Vice Chancellor’s devastating ‘Future Fed’ cuts proposal. 

Staff, students, and community members will rally at midday at the Berwick campus on Tuesday 30 April, at midday at the Churchill campus on Wednesday 1 May, and at midday at the Mt Helen campus on Thursday 2 May. They will call on senior management to stop the devastating cuts proposed by the institution’s Vice Chancellor, which they say will destroy valued courses and further undermine already stretched student support services. 

The exact locations of the rallies and information about speakers will be released on Monday 29 April.

Union says 20 per cent of workforce at risk

While management is still refusing to tell staff where they intend to apply the cuts, the NTEU says it is now clear that they plan on removing 200 Full Time Equivalent positions. As a percentage of the FTE headcount of 1071 disclosed in the last annual report, this amounts to nearly 20 per cent of the workforce at FedUni. The NTEU says it is not aware of management at any Australian university that has applied cuts more destructive than this. 

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“Our branch’s organising team has been very busy putting up posters, handing out leaflets, and engaging staff and students in conversations to build these important rallies,” says NTEU Branch President Dr Mathew Abbott. 

“Our branch has taken on this rogue management in the past and won and we are aiming to do so again. The stakes are very high as staff members believe our university cannot survive cuts of this scale, as they will make our problems with student enrolment and retention far worse.” 

Students concerned about support services

FedUni student Ramesh Durai says students are very concerned about the cuts and about proposals from the university’s Provost to replace valued staff with chat bots.

“As a current international student, I would be greatly disappointed should the discussed changes, specifically those regarding the redundancy of staff and replacement with automated systems, be meted out,” Mr Durai says.

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“I would consider it a failing of the university to fulfil their contracted charge of proper tertiary education. If I wanted a chatbot handling my requests I would take that to Maccas, not my university.”

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