La Trobe staff brace as 200 more jobs set to go

An estimated 200 full-time professional and academic jobs at La Trobe University will be cut as the tertiary institution tightens its belt further in response to the pandemic-related downturn that has cost it hundreds of millions of dollars.

La Trobe staff are set to be briefed about the latest round of redundancies at 9.30am on Wednesday, but employees whose role will go in the soon-to-be downsized university structure were individually told the news on Tuesday.

La Trobe University will shed 200 more jobs in 2021.

The cuts are expected to affect professional staff more heavily than academic staff, and people whose positions have been made redundant will be able to apply for a number of new roles that are set to be created.

The cuts follow last year’s shedding of more than 300 full-time-equivalent positions, but are smaller than its previously forecast reduction of up to 350 jobs.

Cuts to expenditure such as utilities and an unexpected willingness of international students, who have been blocked from entering Australia, to continue studying online have helped the university save a number of jobs.

A university spokesperson said it was too early to confirm final redundancy figures and that staff would be consulted before any final decisions were made.

About 300 new roles will be created in the new restructure, and staff who have been displaced will be able to apply for them.

“The proposed changes will result in both new opportunities and, regrettably, redundancies,” the spokesperson said. “Where possible, redeployment will be the first option for people displaced in the proposed structure.”

Alysia Rex, a first-year student co-ordinator, was among the professional staff told her role will be made redundant in the proposed restructure, along with her two team members.

Ms Rex, who is also president of the National Tertiary Education Union’s La Trobe branch, said staff were paying the price for ”university mismanagement”.

“The pandemic is a huge [financial] headwind but we weren’t prepared, we didn’t have life jackets, essentially,” she said.

“University workers are paying the price for mismanagement and it’s really disappointing, because when you start cutting away you diminish the university; all that the university is is the people who work there.”

Staff took pay cuts of 10 per cent last year as part of a job protection framework negotiated between the higher education union and a number of universities. That framework expired last month.

La Trobe posted a deficit of more than $8 million last year, one of three Victorian universities along with RMIT and Swinburne to finish 2020 in the red.

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