University set to slash hundreds of jobs
UP TO ONE in five jobs at Queensland's largest regional university are on the chopping block as a collapse in international students wreaks havoc on Australia's higher-education sector.
Central Queensland University vice-chancellor Nick Klompf has foreshadowed hundreds of jobs could be lost within weeks after the Federal Government's relief package failed to help cover a $100 million hole blown in its budget by the coronavirus pandemic.
In an email to staff obtained by The Courier-Mail, Prof Klompf said decisive action was required to protect the university, which employs about 3000 staff, but job losses would "cut deeply in our regional Queensland areas".
"As things currently stand, I have no option but to proceed with a program of forced redundancies over the coming weeks," he said.
He said it was clear the downturn caused by the closure of Australia's border to international students that led to a quarter of CQU's income being wiped out would "extend well into 2021 and beyond".
He said a range of federal government measures to prop up the industry had done little to help and CQU had not qualified for the JobKeeper wage subsidy package after it "appears the regulations were changed on two or three occasions as if to ensure universities could not apply".
Labor education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek urged the government not to abandon regional Queensland families and communities.
"Hundreds of Queenslanders will lose their jobs if the Federal Government doesn't do something to help," she said.
"Job losses on this scale will be devastating for Queensland's regional cities and towns."
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said the Government had committed $18 billion to universities and would continue working with the sector to "minimise the financial impact of COVID-19".
"We are aware that like the rest of the Australian and global community the university sector is not immune from the financial impact of the virus and that it covers a breadth of people within its communities including professional staff, academics, casual staff, domestic students, and international students," he said.
The latest move comes just weeks after CQU launched a recovery plan with executives including Prof Klompf taking a 20 per cent cut pay cut in 2020-21 and the proposed closure of three smaller university sites at Biloela, Yeppoon and Noosa.
About 200 staff across the academic and professional workforce have applied for voluntary redundancies, but Prof Klompf warned the university was still just "a third of the way to where we need to be in terms of cost savings".
A university spokeswoman said there were no plans to reduce services or close departments.
Originally published as University set to slash hundreds of jobs