Uni cuts won’t affect budgets, full-time staff

MANAGEMENT at the University of the Sunshine Coast says neither budgets nor permanent academic staff numbers are being cut.

Academic staff in the University's Faculty of Arts and Business were thrown into turmoil this week when advised that hours for sessional or casual staff would be cut.

The number of staff whose hours will be reduced has not yet been identified.

The announcement, less than two weeks out from the start of lectures, has left academic staff scrambling to sort out workloads and timetables.

The National Tertiary Education Union linked the cut in sessional hours to a $1.4 million reallocation of funds from the teaching budget. The university maintains that budgets have not been cut.

University pro vice-chancellor for Corporate Services, Dr Scott Snyder, said in a memo to staff that faculty budgets for 2015 were larger than last year. "I would like to assure staff that the 2015 budgets, approved in late 2014, have not been changed," he wrote.

But Dr Snyder said the budgets were not enough to achieve faculty "wishlists".

He said the university's expenditure on casual, sessional and contract staff had been identified as higher than other universities. Faculties had been asked to look at reducing that spending to reallocate the funds to other initiatives, he said.

Dr Snyder said there was no intention to reduce the numbers of permanent academic staff and new appointments would be made from the savings. The changes to sessional staff mean that some permanent staff may face increased workloads.

At a meeting on Thursday, staff voiced concerns about the increased workloads and the impact of larger class sizes on the university's five-star teaching rating.

The meeting moved a motion of no confidence in senior management of the university over the handling of the matter.

Dr Snyder told the Daily the changes would not push workloads beyond already agreed teaching hours and he said they should not adversely affect the quality of students' education. "I'm not sure how asking your professional scholars to spend a couple more hours with students a week could give you a worse outcome. It should give you a better outcome."

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