Having already cut hundreds of jobs since the start of the pandemic, Macquarie University this week announced over 300 professionals that their positions will be laid off in a major ‘waste and fill-in’ exercise that will leave staff fighting for the newly created , lower paid positions.
The latest round of job cuts at Macquarie comes in addition to the 239 professionals and over 150 academic staff already lost since March 2020, despite no evidence that the university’s finances are in crisis. Meanwhile, Macquarie’s chief executive has not faced a pay cut, remains untouched by relentless staff cuts.
The university seeks to save up to $ 8.1 million in costs by abolishing 300 full-time equivalents across student services and all four faculties and restructuring approximately 25% of its ongoing professional staff.
Macquarie also proposes to close the faculty’s Student Centers entirely in favor of a centralized model, which means that students will lose tailored support services.
As part of the ‘waste and filling’, hundreds of employees will have to choose between expressing interest in down-prioritized positions, where they may perform the same work for less pay or be fired, and take their organizational knowledge with them.
The university tells staff that the changes will promote “better career paths”, but there is no guarantee that staff whose jobs will be laid off will be re-employed.
NTEU Macquarie branch president Nikki Balnave described the recent restructuring as “a successor to last year’s Hunger Games-style academic staff cuts.”
“Professional staff who have worked tirelessly to support staff and students through the most turbulent period in the university’s history will now be asked to fight among themselves for positions, many of which have been downgraded. ”
“Management argues that this initiative is about putting ‘students first’, but ignores the fundamental role that professionals play in enabling the optimal student experience both directly and through their role in supporting the wider university community.”
Cathy Rytmeister, a professional staffer, noted that “emissions and filling” would disproportionately affect women who have been exposed to the bulk of job losses in the university sector and society as a whole since the pandemic:
“They are exploiting employees’ anxiety about an insecure labor market to force even more work out of staff, often for less pay … The cuts will also mean more administrative work for academic staff – work often picked up by women and casual staff.”
Rytmeister said the proposal was “incredibly damaging” and “will have long-term negative consequences for the university’s capacity to meet student administration and support needs.”
It is feared that the cuts will further impair the student experience. Macquarie’s staff and student relations have more than doubled since 2019 to 69: 1, the worst in Australia.
A final year Bachelor of Commerce student, Emily Freeman, praised the work of the staff at Macquarie Business School, whose positions are on the cutting edge: “Without their 24-hour support and passion for improving students’ experience, I do not think Macquarie University can offer the same value for students. “
NTEU has vowed to fight back against the proposal, which is believed to be the biggest attack on staff jobs in Macquarie University’s history.
Editor’s note: The title of this article was changed at. 16:11 on October 31st.