Students anxious as unis take multi-million dollar blow
MORE than 1000 students 60 staff are in limbo after CQUniversity announced it could close its Noosa campus under its coronavirus recovery plan.
CQUniversity Associate Vice Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp said on Monday night that staff would take pay cuts and voluntary redundancies and campuses could close.
Campus closures on the cards include Noosa, Yeppoon and Biloela, after the university revealed a $100 million projected budget shortfall for 2020.
University of Sunshine Coast also confirmed yesterday that it was bracing for a $29 million revenue hit this year due to the drop in international student enrolments.
CQUniversity Noosa second year education student Abbey Magee said she was in shock after hearing the news.
The 19-year-old is one of the 1040 Noosa students clinging on to hope that the campus closure will remain a proposal and not materialise.
With students now learning from home due to the virus, she worried what it would be like if the campus closed.
"In terms of teaching, I think education is a vital thing to learn face-to-face, so I'm a bit upset about it," Ms Magee said.
"Immediately I was most worried that when it comes down to it, once I've finished my degree, I don't know if someone is going to get chosen for a job over me if they've studied at a university and I've done it online.
"Everyone is just clinging onto the fact that (the closure) is a possibility at this point, because we love the campus."
The closures will be subject to consultation with staff, students and the community.
Professor Klomp said closing the campus could save CQUniversity $3 million per year.
University of Sunshine Coast acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Elliot said all Australian universities had been hit hard by coronavirus restrictions.
But he added the university was in a "relatively strong position" due to its strong focus on domestic and regional students.
"First semester revenues suffered when some students were unable to get to Australia because of travel bans and many who were able to do so subsequently returned home as requested by their home countries," Professor Elliot said.
He said saving measures - with minimal impact on staff and students - that could be sustained for three years were being considered.
Professor Klomp told the Daily that if the CQUniversity Noosa campus closed, students would continue to study online, which 80 per cent of the cohort already did.
He said if needed some staff could work from home, while others could transfer to another campus or be offered separation packages.
He said voluntary redundancies would be offered and non-essential recruitment paused.
The campus has had three consecutive years of growth, with student numbers rising from 870 in 2017 to 1040 in 2019.