La Trobe University pushes ahead with massive cuts in Humanities and Social Sciences
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) is holding a joint protest on Monday at 4.30pm with the La Trobe University Student Union to put ressure on the University Council to reduce staff cuts to the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. A representative will present a petition from faculty staff to the La Trobe University Council.
A document issued by La Trobe University today outlined cuts of up to 37 equivalent full-time positions plus a further four to go by 2015.
NTEU La Trobe Branch President, Virginia Mansel Lees, said that the faculty was being held to ransom by a partly manufactured budget crisis.
“Currently, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences contributes 54 cents in the dollar to central administration, which is more than other comparable faculties at other universities. A reduction of 3 cents (or 3%) would go a long way toward saving jobs. The University Council is in a position to alter the budget parameters which it has set, as it has done for another area of the University,” she said.
“Staff members are distressed by the high level of the proposed cuts and believe that it threatens the viability of the faculty. The effect on regional campuses will be acute with courses in Politics, and Religion and Spirituality, to be abolished at the Bendigo campus.
“The proposal will radically curtail the options for students on smaller regional campuses, including for higher degree studies.”
Ms Mansel Lees said that while Gender, Sexuality and Diversity Studies, and Art History will be maintained, they will be merged into other departments so the future of the current teaching staff remains uncertain.
Dr Jack Reynolds, NTEU La Trobe Branch secretary, condemned the high level of the cuts.
“The revised proposal is marginally better than what was initially proposed, but is far short of anything with which we could be satisfied. The faculty has around a $4 million surplus and it seems clear that this restructure is designed to free up funds in order to cross-subsidise research elsewhere in the university,” he said.
“The most important improvement has been the decision to retain Indonesian studies which will experience no job losses. Undergraduate Linguistics will be retained, though as a minor area of studies, with one less position.”
Staff members at today’s forum expressed a lack of confidence that their views have been properly taken into consideration.
“The NTEU continues to have serious concerns about continued inaccuracies, including how subjects currently on the books are counted,” Dr Reynolds said.
For further information and comment:
Virginia Mansel Lees: President, NTEU La Trobe University Branch: 0438 282 146
Dr Jack Reynolds: Secretary, NTEU La Trobe University Branch (03) 9479 3605
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