Walking the Plank in Western Australia

It is now well known that the Vice Chancellor at the University of Western Australia chose to use his 2015 Christmas address to staff to announce that 300 of them would lose their jobs in 2016. Since then Academic staff and Professional Staff alike have been subjected to over 6 months uncertainty and many academics and all professional staff still have no idea what their future will be.

To justify this massive reduction in staff, UWA claims to have an “underlying deficit” and report that they need to eliminate jobs and expertise in order to build funds to pursue strategic initiatives. So, the university wants to save money and improve its bottom line. Even if we accept that premise (and many don’t accept that universities should act as businesses) surely a whole of institution approach to identify the strategic priorities that the University wants to keep and build upon, and what it now must abandon in order to save money, would be the way to approach it.

Instead what we have is a process whereby each Faculty develops a “methodology” to evaluate the worth of their individual academic staff.

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One thought on “Walking the Plank in Western Australia

  1. The coercive effects of threatened redundancies are arguably even more nefarious in universities given the difficult job market in many fields. Staff are liable to be far more compliant and passive when it is so difficult to find jobs anywhere. The further erosion of tenure risks discouraging people from pursuing a PhD altogether. Someday there may be no academics available to teach or perform research. But perhaps that is precisely what university managers want in the end: a university with no academics and students.

    Liked by 1 person

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