'MASSIVE JOB': Huge changes at SCU over next 3 years
FACING a multimillion-dollar funding shortfall, Southern Cross University's senior leadership team realised there would have to a major shake-up if it was to survive.
Last week the university announced 71 people had taken voluntary redundancies.
But this will not be enough and the news came with a warning ‒ there will be even more job losses and cost-cutting measures.
SCU's vice president of engagement, Ben Roche, said the next three years would be critical.
"We had more interest in the voluntary redundancy program than we expected," he said.
"They (the applications) came from all over the organisation ... we had to assess them carefully to ensure we didn't compromise essential areas of the university."
He would not be drawn on whether there would be forced redundancies at SCU or further rounds of voluntary redundancies, but confirmed there was "a lot still being worked through".
"We have been really upfront with our staff ... we have a forecast $38 million shortfall, so we need to address that in a measured way," Mr Roche said.
New Vice Chancellor Professor Tyrone Carlin is set to officially take up the job later this month, and the next big change will be the university's academic model.
That will include the way that courses are delivered, what courses are on offer and the structure of semesters.
"We are rebuilding almost every course within the university," Mr Roche said.
"It's a massive job, but it is necessary.
"The status quo has completely changed.
"Over the next three years we will have a whole new academic model.
"We will have shorter, sharper courses and six study periods.
"We will have to think deeply about the viability of our courses. Can we have a course with only five students? We are certainly being challenged.
"We want to be renowned for a deep focus ... we need to be clear on what we specialise in, our subject areas and our disciplines.
"We can't be everything to everyone."
The other big question mark hanging over SCU ‒ and all universities in Australia ‒ is the Job Ready Graduates Package, which is currently before the Senate after passing in the House of Representatives earlier this month.
It proposes a wide range of reforms to the tertiary education sector.
Mr Roche said it had some "good measures", but would also affect the cost structures around some courses.
It will force SCU to look for ways to grow that don't rely on government funding.
Despite the many challenges, Mr Roche said SCU was well placed to get through them and come out the other side stronger than ever.
"It's easier for us ... we are a small, agile university," he said.
"We are working back from what kind of impact we want to make on the world, and I think that can only be a positive thing."