Students Rally Against UWA Staff Cuts

STAFF and students want to end the uncertainty surrounding the proposal of about 100 teaching and 200 non-teaching jobs being cut at the University of WA.

“We want to send a message to the Vice-Chancellor Paul Johnson, who said the decision was made, that students won’t accept it and won’t be taking it lying down,” UWA Uncut student protest organiser Emma Norton said.

Cutting the university’s schools from nine to four was agreed to at a university senate meeting on March 15.

This afternoon, about 50 students were at the “Uncut protest,” which was not supported by the Student Guild, at the 25,000-student campus in Crawley, where there are other fears about the cuts.

“The increase in the student to staff ration will be the main thing, as it will be harder to get access to staff and more courses will be online,” third-year neuroscience student Erin Russell said.

Philosophy lecturer Nin Kirkham said staff moral was “extremely low” because no announcement about which jobs would go, and the university instead should lobby the Federal Government for more secure funding and cut back on the cost of executive leaders.

About 100 staff are members of the National Tertiary Education Union, whose senior WA organise Marty Braithwaite said there was still a “wall of silence” from the university’s executive about which jobs would go that started when changes were announced in December.

“When we have clear idea of what sort of numbers they are thinking, and what they are targeting, only then can we and our people assess our legal options,” Mr Braithwaite said.

About 50 new jobs are mooted if the changes take place.

However, Prof Johnson did not reply to staff and student’s concerns voiced today, and in a week-old statement said the final proposal for change were agreed after “extensive consultation with staff”.

Prof Johnson said four new academic faculties would replace the existing nine, a “professional services delivery model” would be created and each Faculty would develop its way of evaluating its teaching jobs.