Students will be returning to university in 2017 with less academic and career services available following significant staffing restructures across multiple campus divisions in the lead up to the Christmas holiday period.
Careers Services, Academic Skills, Global Mobility and Student Advice will merge into two professional divisions. Staffing positions were set to be made redundant and replaced with positions which required less professional expertise. Since the proposal, changes have been made to ensure no redundancies within the Academic Skills division.
Katherine Beaumont, former Director of Student Success, claims the academic service restructures will deliver on requests expressed in student experience feedback. Beaumont says the proposals will “continue to offer ‘basics’ such as CV checking, interview preparation in the career space and workshops and tutorials in the academic skills space but in additive ways that both provide service to students and build the employability of students and peers.”
One of the restructures that has been met with heavy resistance is the closure of the Victorian College of the Arts Centre for Cultural Partnerships; the only research and teaching facility for arts and social practice in Australia.
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has condemned the redundancies and limited consultation with affected staff as part of a “culture of sackings, restructures and toxic management”. At a NTEU meeting in late 2016, some affected staff claimed that they were unaware of the proposed redundancies until notice of the union meeting.
A protest outside Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis’ on-campus residence in December painted Davis as a ‘Christmas Grinch’.
Yan Zhuang, President of the University of Melbourne Student Union, has expressed concern over the timeline of these restructures.
“By having these changes in full effect by January 2017, the University has attempted to sweep the restructure under the rug and begin the new year as if it had always been this way.”
Zhuang also notes that the final change plan which outlined the confirmed proposals was released a day after the staff consultation period ended, suggesting that consultation was not fully considered.
The University has entered into the six-month bargaining period held before the implementation of a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA), which outlines the terms of employment for staff, including rate of pay and working conditions.