Jobs to go as SCU grapples with $58m budget shortfall
THE effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are being felt at Southern Cross University, with the institution now facing a budget shortfall of $58m over the next two years.
The university has suffered particularly due to the loss of international students to Australia.
Chancellor Nick Burton Taylor convened an Extraordinary Meeting of the University Council last week that endorsed a road map to drive recovery.
Mr Burton Taylor said the recovery this year and next would mean some cuts and job losses.
"It would be improper and misleading to suggest otherwise," he said.
The Chancellor committed the university to an open and sensitive process over the coming months as the reforms are set in place.
"Because of who we are and where we live, we have an enhanced sense of obligation to the community around the actions we have to take, but take them we must," he said.
"This does not weaken our resolve but makes us highly sensitive to the social cost of any actions undertaken.
"It would be easy, for instance, to close the smaller of our campuses but that would destroy our fundamental purpose as a regional university connected to its community.
"Our ambition is to create a university capable of managing diverse and small campuses, so we are committed to maintaining our current campus structure."
A high-level Planning Ahead Committee was formed last month to oversee reforms in the academic area, research, campuses and professional services, with initial plans ratified last week.
"Every university in Australia is facing its own challenges," Mr Burton Taylor said.
"There is no white knight coming down the road to our rescue. Our issues are local and I believe we can solve them ourselves."
SCU had a strong balance sheet and a successful international student program prior to the pandemic.
The Planning Ahead Committee will streamline operations, identify savings and continue with larger projects that will help position SCU for the future.
"The number one priority is to enhance our teaching and research for the benefit of students, and improving Southern Cross's financial stability is key to that," Mr Burton Taylor said.
Despite the drop-off in international students, the university has revealed it has seen applications for science, environment and engineering degrees rise by 99 per cent for domestic students.
Overall there is a 25 per cent year-on-year increase for domestic applications for study at SCU in Session 2.
SCU has campuses in Coffs Harbour, Lismore and the Gold Coast.