Media: UTAS coy on restructure plans: NTEU
UTAS coy on restructure plans: NTEU
- by: John Ross
- From: The Australian
- June 16, 2012 12:00AM
THE National Tertiary Education Union has accused the University of Tasmania of overlooking its own staff in its push to scale the research rankings.
The NTEU said UTas had its eye on retrenchment instead of retraining programs as a means of realising its “Open to Talent” strategic plan.
Tasmanian division industrial officer Rob Binnie said 30 redundancies recommended by a recent review of the arts faculty would be the “tip of the iceberg”, with the arts review becoming a template for a university-wide restructure.
Mr Binnie accused management of cloak and dagger tactics by refusing staff access to consultants’ reports, and ignoring enterprise agreement obligations to be open about restructure proposals.
“The premise of a university is intellectual freedom and sharing of information [but] they’ve done everything they can to cover up the information,” Mr Binnie said.
He said the university had knocked back NTEU requests to see a KPMG report on the arts faculty, which he believed had formed the basis of a more general “workplace change proposal” in April.
Mr Binnie said the university had refused the union’s freedom of information request for a copy of the KPMG report, but allowed staff to view it individually in a “special room”.
Its recommendations included collapsing the number of arts schools from ten to three and deleting 15 academic and 15 professional positions, as part of a $2 million cost-cutting exercise, he said.
Mr Binnie said he expected the same ideas to be “rolled into” university-wide reviews of academic and administrative staff, currently being conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The union hasn’t seen the background documents on the academic review. But it obtained the tender documents for the administrative review, which was initiated last November.
The administrative review is supposed to provide a “functional administrative operating model”, complete with structural charts and an implementation plan, to generate “measurable improvements in terms of functionality and efficiency of resources”.
Mr Binnie stressed that the university hadn’t implemented the arts faculty recommendations. But he expected eventual university-wide job cuts far more numerous than the 30 positions earmarked in the arts faculty.
He said vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen was “bypassing the staff” with his strategic vision. “The university has not invested adequately in training and development of current staff,” he said.
“It’s an insult to the staff who’ve worked so hard to make the university what it is.”
Mr Binnie predicted “island brain drain”, with academics forced to seek jobs on the mainland after being displaced from Tasmania’s only university.
The university has previously flagged measures to address what it considers to be under-performing researchers
In February, provost David Rich told the HES that active researchers could constitute as little as 30 per cent of staff.
In a statement issued yesterday, Professor Rathjen said UTas was taking “measures to ensure responsible resource management”.
“Our aspirations are demanding and we need to ensure that we steward our resources responsibly to deliver high quality teaching and research,” Professor Rathjen said.
He said the university had been encouraged by “extensive” staff involvement in its strategic planning, particular in the arts review. “We will continue to engage staff and the unions in the development of our future plans,” he said.