Questions for the Vice Chancellor at Macquarie Faculties Road Shows.
QUESTIONS FOR THE VC
- Professor Schwartz, in 2010 the University reported a 17.8% increase in its income, and a $76.2 million surplus. As of 31 December 2010 we also had $81.4 million in cash, and a further $94.2 million in other financial assets. How do you reconcile this picture of financial health with the drastic cuts to departmental budgets in this and other Faculties?
- Professor Schwartz, the University has planned capital expenditure of $295 million over the course of 2011-2013. Can you please tell us how this is justified when we are simultaneously cutting funding to Faculties and therefore to the core activities of teaching and research?
- Professor Schwartz, since 2006 our equivalent fulltime student load has increased by 5850, while equivalent fulltime academic staff increased by 114. This has led to consecutive year-on-year increases in student to staff ratios, which saw the Australian Good Universities guide give Macquarie University its lowest possible rating (1 star out of 5). Is it not true that further cuts to departmental budgets will exacerbate this disastrous development, and further compromise the University’s learning and teaching reputation amongst students?
- Professor Schwartz, some departments in our Faculty have had their budgets for 2012 massively cut, and are coping by abandoning many of their tutorials and cutting casual staff. Do you intend cutting fees for students given the inevitable decline in the quality of the education that they will now receive at Macquarie University?
- Professor Schwartz, you have frequently said that we need to generate a large surplus in order to finance our building program. Does this mean that of the $281 million of Australian Government financial assistance that the university received in 2010, none can be spent on university infrastructure?
- Professor Schwartz, on 16 November an officer from the University’s finances division confirmed at a Macquarie University Consultative Committee Meeting (MUCC) that the University’s Private Hospital lost more than $20 million in 2010, and was likely to lose a similar amount in 2011. Do you accept responsibility for the disastrous decision to invest $200 million of University money in the high risk area of private medicine?
- Professor Schwartz, as of 31 December 2010, the University had total debts of $259.2 million. Do you think that it was prudent to go so heavily into debt given the uncertainty in the global and domestic economies?
- Professor Schwartz, do you concede that there has been a massive increase in the workloads of academics and professional staff at Macquarie University under your tenure given the massive increase in student numbers, do you concede that it is impossible to do our work in the 35 hours per week for which we are remunerated, and do you have any plans for addressing this issue?
- Professor Schwartz, the University recently announced its intention to replace Honors with a two year Masters degree. In circumstances where Faculty budgets are being savagely cut, what provisions are being made to fund the new course work intensive Masters degrees?
- Professor Schwartz, between 2006 and 2010 your total remuneration increased from $510,000 to $1.238 million, or over 140%. You now get paid more than Australia’s highest paid public servant (the Reserve Bank Governor), and nearly 3 times more than Australia’s Prime Minister. How can this be justified when you are demanding that the rest of the University tighten their belts?