02/09/2020 - 09:47

Murdoch seeks $25m in savings

02/09/2020 - 09:47

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Murdoch University has signalled it will cut staff ahead of 2021, one day after Curtin University confirmed it was considering widespread redundancies.

Staff salaries now represent more than half of Murdoch's cost base. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Murdoch University has signalled it will cut staff ahead of 2021, one day after Curtin University confirmed it was considering widespread redundancies.

In a message to staff this morning, Murdoch University vice-chancellor Eeva Leinonen said the university had already reduced expenditure by $30 million this year.

She cautioned, however, that the university was still in an unsustainable financial position, with staff salaries now representing 62 per cent of its cost base.

“We will now need to find an additional $25 million in salary savings in 2021, which must be maintained throughout the next several years whilst we recover our revenue,” Professor Leinonen said.

“As we are all aware, there are many economic, geographical and political drivers outside of our control and this financial challenge could still grow as things continue to change.

“Accordingly, we have invited the NTEU to commence discussions and we will provide updates to all staff through communications and engagement sessions in the coming days and weeks.”

While the message did not indicate how many staff members may be affected by possible changes, Murdoch University employs 3,282 people, according to its latest available annual report.

Meanwhile, revenue for the university totalled $407 million.

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of reports Curtin University was considering a suite of measures, including voluntary redundancies, in an effort to save $45 million.

Redundancies were projected to save the university up to $30 million.

In a brief statement sent to the media yesterday, vice-chancellor John Cordery said the university needed to look at ways in which to fix budgetary and operational challenges that had arisen from a loss in international student enrolments.

“Accordingly, staff have received a consultation paper on the potential for significant changes in the workplace, designed to help reduce operational costs by a targeted $45 million,” he said.

“We will be working with staff to determine how we can best make these cost savings, while protecting as many jobs as possible.

“Among the options that are being considered are deferral of capital works, forgoing scheduled pay increases in 2021, voluntary redundancies and reducing the scope and amount of work currently performed.”

Universities across Australia have begun entertaining staff cuts and other measures to reduce costs in recent weeks, as the federal government has significantly reduced funding to the sector.

Legislated changes to course funding from 2022 are likely to have a significant impact on the bottom line of many universities that are no longer enrolling international students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University of Western Australia, Edith Cowan University and The University of Notre Dame Australia have yet to say whether they will consider staff cuts from 2021.

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