Community Petition Against UON Job Cuts

UON VC Alex Zelinsky and UON University Council

Sam Wallman
After consultation with staff and students, NTEU Newcastle Branch is launching a petition to reflect a united rejection of the proposed restructures. To show support you can sign the petition, then share with your colleagues, students, collaborators, and friends.

The University of Newcastle's Senior Executive and Council seeks to implement change that directly affects almost 400 academic, professional and teaching staff, along with countless casual staff. These changes will indirectly affect hundreds of others.

The case made for these cuts is not compelling. We must remember in the lead up to COVID Prof. Zelinsky was spruiking the "solid financial foundation" of the University and that strategies had been implemented which "[placed] us in good stead for the future". He had also stated the University was in a "great position to respond to the disruptions … in higher education and … [that we are] prepare[d] for the future." It seems the ‘unique opportunity’, as management have called COVID, is just too good to let pass by.

In particular, we believe:  
  • The University is not in a financial crisis. Unlike many Australian universities, UON is currently in surplus and has accrued over $300M in surpluses since 2015 and holds over $600M in cash and investments.
  • Management has not been transparent about the details of its financial situation, and the financial predictions appear to be based on a flawed premise.  
  • Management failed to notify that adoption of the Looking Ahead Strategic Plan would lead to staff cuts.  
  • This change is not consistent with the goals outlined in the Looking Ahead Strategic Plan to deliver 'excellence, equity, engagement and sustainability in student learning and outcomes’. It fails to meet management's commitment to 'build on the passion, commitment, and expertise of its people’, who are expected to 'guide students on their journey'.
  • There has been no strategic assessment of the impact that the proposed staff cuts will have on the current and future workload of UoN staff. (Confirmed by the Vice-Chancellor at the all-staff forum)
  • There has been no strategic assessment of the impact the proposed staff cuts will have on the current and future research capability of the University of Newcastle. (Confirmed by the Vice-Chancellor at the all-staff forum)

In light of the above, we are convinced this process undermines our capacity to deliver our 'core business' of teaching and research into the future. Consequently, the proposed staff cuts threaten the very existence of the University of Newcastle as a world-class research-intensive academic institution.

We need to raise our voices together to be heard. Please join us in signing this petition and share it widely.

Please note that your submission will be deidentified prior to submission, showing only your first name and postcode.

To: UON VC Alex Zelinsky and UON University Council
From: [Your Name]

We call on the Vice-Chancellor, Alex Zelinsky, and UON University Council to:

1. Pause the change processes immediately.

2. Stand with staff, students and the community and openly reject the funding environment created by successive Federal Governments, rather than be complicit in it.

3. Adopt a wide-ranging open and independent strategic review of the true state of the University finances and the impact proposed changes will have on the University's financial position, staff workload, and teaching and research capability beyond the immediate future.

4. Give greater consideration to managing the financial situation through gradual staffing changes through natural attrition (retirements) and strategic recruitment.

5. Establish a consultative approach for change that is open, transparent and fair.

6. Put out a call for a general round of voluntary separations before progressing with any change process.