News Charles Darwin University confirms 77 jobs to go in vocational restructure after consultations

Charles Darwin University confirms 77 jobs to go in vocational restructure after consultations

More than 70 jobs will go and up to 650 students will be affected by course cuts. Photo: Facebook/Charles Darwin University
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Charles Darwin University has confirmed to staff that it is moving ahead with plans to cut 77 jobs in a merger of vocational and higher education.

Staff were told in meetings that 36 people had accepted voluntary redundancies and more than 40 full-time positions would be lost.

A change proposal was presented to staff in late September revealing CDU’s plans to slash the jobs and 19 vocational education and training (VET) courses.

The university has been consulting with unions and staff about the plans since then, after extending its initial two-week consultation period.

“The team has diligently assessed more than 400 pieces of feedback from staff to create the most effective and workable solutions,” CDU deputy vice-chancellor Meredith Parry said in a statement.

“There are many staff who took a great deal of time to provide their input – we value this feedback and in response have made a number of changes in every affected college or office.”

Ms Parry said it was a difficult time for the university but it had a “council directive” to find savings.

But National Tertiary Education Union NT spokesman Darius Pfitzner said cutting so many jobs before Christmas was disrespectful and unnecessary given the university was “not broke”.

“It’s heartless,” Mr Pfitzner said.

The union also lodged a dispute about CDU’s staff disclosure process and a decision to talk to people losing their jobs one on one first, before any “all staff” presentations.

About 650 students affected by cuts

A CDU spokesperson said the university would not be delaying the cuts any further and that speaking to staff individually was a more respectful approach.

CDU hopes cutting VET courses and positions will save $9 million. Photo: ABC News

Ms Parry said the rationale for the cuts remained unchanged since September and they could save the university $9 million, slightly less than a previous estimate of $10 million.

In September, Ms Parry said university-commissioned reports had found the VET structure was financially unsustainable.

She predicted more than 620 students and 28 apprentices would be affected by the scrapping of courses, including community night patrol, hospitality, hairdressing and business administration.

The university says students currently enrolled in the courses that will be cut can choose to finish or abandon their studies.

Ms Parry also said a drop in government funding and VET enrolments were to blame for the university’s financial position.

In July last year, CDU vice-chancellor Simon Maddocks said he expected the university would have to slash close to 100 jobs in a restructure.

At the time, Professor Maddocks said the university was facing an unprecedented financial challenge and flagged potential changes to the vocational education course offerings, along with higher education.

The university recorded an $8.8 million deficit in 2019, compared with a $21 million deficit the previous year, according to its latest annual report.

Professor Maddocks said the university was continuing to pursue a strategy to grow international student numbers.

CDU has been working on a plan to fly 70 international students to Darwin via Singapore at the end of this month, which is part of a pilot program that has federal government approval.

ABC