A change proposal leaked to the ABC from one of Perth’s biggest universities reveals management is seeking hundreds of redundancies, in what one staff member says will create a “leaner, meaner and nastier institution”.

The Curtin University proposal — which is still to be negotiated with unions and staff — plans to address the fall in international student revenue by seeking $45 million in savings, most of which will come from cutting staff costs.

The proposal comes as universities across the country reveal similar measures in the wake of the drop in international students, with thousands of jobs in the sector set to disappear.

The document reveals Curtin, which last year reported 32.2 per cent of its students classed as international, proposes to save $11 million by cancelling a 2 per cent pay rise for staff, due next year.

It says another $30 million is aimed to be saved through voluntary redundancies. However, if not enough staff apply, forced redundancies will follow.

The document has outlined $4 million to be saved from the capital works budget, with an $80 million dollar library refurbishment proceeding as planned.

The National Tertiary Education Union said the move was not necessary, but “a choice”.

It is one that staff must stand together to oppose,” the union said in a statement.

“We must reject management’s blackmail that we need to take a pay cut to save some (but far from all jobs), and reject their assertion that staff must pay so they can continue with their plans.”

An urgent meeting of staff has been called for Thursday to discuss staff plans to fight the proposal.

“If this goes ahead, this is going to be a leaner, meaner, nastier institution,” a Curtin University staff member, who did not wish to be named citing the redundancies, said.

Curtin University has been contacted for comment.

Sector-wide job losses

Most universities across Australia have announced some form of job losses, with proposals currently being considered at the University of Sydney.

The university sector is being hit hard by falling international student numbers.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

Tens of millions of dollars will also be repaid to University of Sydney staff following an internal audit and an ABC investigation into wage theft in the tertiary sector.

At a Senate Estimates hearing last month, Federal Department of Education officials announced its tally of the total job losses in the sector was about 4,000 staff based on university announcements.

However, this does not include casual staff and the ABC is aware of two universities alone that are no longer giving work to 5,000 casual and contract staff

The ABC has requested information on the casualisation of the university sector workforce from other institutions.

However, some universities say bookkeeping arrangements mean they can not accurately supply this information.

New fees expected in 2022

Universities Australia says the sector is bracing for a drop in revenue of between $3 billion and $4.6 billion.

The Government is currently seeking to advance its “job ready graduates” legislation through the House and to the Senate, where it appears headed to committee.

That means it would likely not be implemented until 2022.

Some universities have welcomed the legislation, but others say a more comprehensive rescue package is needed.

The Government and a number of vice-chancellors are currently working on committees to find new ways to fund research, which has previously been subsidised by teaching international students.


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