ONE of the region's biggest employers, Southern Cross University, is offering voluntary redundancies to address a significant budget shortfall.
An email was sent to all staff on Thursday afternoon indicating the gap "between expenditure and revenue" could not be met without some reduction to staff levels.
Vice chancellor Peter Lee said in the email: "The decision to proceed with the voluntary redundancy round has not been easy, given my respect for all staff and the roles they perform."
Staff have been given until June 21 to nominate for a redundancy, with relevant managers to determine whether particular roles can be fulfilled in other ways.
The higher education sector has been hit hard by Federal Government cuts. We are not alone and many other universities are looking for ways to meet this shortfall
Professor Lee said cuts to the higher education sector would result in a loss of $3 million to SCU.
"The higher education sector has been hit hard by Federal Government cuts. We are not alone and many other universities are looking for ways to meet this shortfall," he said.
But the two unions that represent staff at SCU said there was no consultation prior to the announcement and no opportunity to suggest ways to find savings.
Toni Ledgerwood, branch president of the CPSU (Community and Public Sector Union), said she had requested a meeting with the vice chancellor a month earlier to discuss ways the university could save money, but was denied.
"We didn't have any opportunity other than through a generic email called Change at SCU on suggesting other ways redundancies could be averted," she said.
The NTEU (National Tertiary Education Union) branch president Kate Mitchell said the union representatives were called in to a meeting with the vice chancellor on Thursday afternoon, half an hour before the email was sent to staff.
"There was no negotiation. The university had made a decision and informed us 30 minutes before telling the whole university so there was no time to prepare staff," she said.
SCU has not put a figure on the number of jobs they are hoping to cut and has not ruled out the possibility of forced redundancies.
Professor Lee said they would "re-assess (the) position once we know the response to the voluntary redundancy round".
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