Melbourne University will cut 540 jobs over the next 18 months in a bid to save $70 million.
The University of Melbourne’s Vice Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis said he hoped many of the cuts would be achieved through natural attrition.
The university had a turnover of 635 staff last year and 580 staff the year before, Prof Davis said on Thursday.
“We will focus on reducing the total number of casual and fixed-term staff where we can and offer minimal redundancies,” he said.
The cuts come as part of a $70 million savings program implemented by the university in what it says is an acknowledgment of the intensely competitive nature of the higher education sector across the globe.
“It was not an easy message to deliver, or receive, that the university has to undertake this reduction in the total number of professional staff,” Prof Davis said.
National Tertiary Education Union state secretary Colin Long said the job losses were unnecessary and would place a greater burden on academics.
“The university has not made any justification for them,” Mr Long said.
“We think it will have a dreadful impact on students and the services that are provided to students, and put a lot of extra work on academics.”
The union said it expected about half the students’ services would be shifted online, leaving many students unable to speak directly to staff.
Mr Long said he did not think there would be enough natural attrition to deliver the savings the university wanted, and he expected there would be forced redundancies.
“I think they’ve already said there will be forced redundancies,” he said.