Media Release: Financial woes at La Trobe University show dangers of new demand-driven funding system
Victoria’s La Trobe University appears to be the first casualty of the new demand-driven university funding system to be introduced in 2012.
“We are deeply concerned that what is happening at La Trobe could be the start of sector wide problems with the introduction of the new funding system in 2012,” said NTEU National Assistant Secretary Matthew McGowan.
“As the federal government itself recognises, our universities are already significantly underfunded, a situation made worse by the flat lining of the international student market.”
“Next year universities will also have to deal with the new funding system which removes limits on numbers of students they can enrol. This will lead to increased competition between institutions of the kind that has contributed to the problems facing La Trobe.”
“The federal government does not appear to recognise just how serious the situation is.”
“Hopefully, the soon to be released review into university base funding will provide impetus for the government to inject additional money into the sector.”
In an e-mail to staff yesterday, La Trobe University Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson said natural attrition and a new round of “voluntary, flexible work measures” were needed at the institution to deal with a $36 million hole in its finances.
This is on top of the hundred jobs lost through voluntary redundancies at the institution in 2008 and the closure of its small Beechworth campus with additional job losses.
The Vice Chancellor attributed the university’s poor funding situation to flat growth in the overseas student market. The university will also see a reduction in the number of students next year, as students who would not normally have qualified at Melbourne and Monash were offered places.
“Obviously, there will be winners out of this new system. There will also be losers. We fear the impacts will be particularly felt by regional institutions,” said McGowan.
“What is happening at Latrobe highlights the deep flaws with the new demand-driven funding system,” said NTEU La Trobe University Branch President, Virginia Mansel Lees.
“There is the potential for a significant numbers of subjects to be cut at La Trobe as a result of La Trobe’s funding situation. I am worried about the impact these staff cutbacks will have on workloads for remaining staff. It is also going to make planning for 2012 incredibly difficult.”
For further information and comment:
Matthew McGowan, NTEU National Assistant Secretary: 0417 054 110
Virginia Mansel Lees, NTEU La Trobe University Branch President: 0438 282 146
Andrew Nette, NTEU Media Officer: 0431 217 131