Media Release: La Trobe University staff and students rally against job cuts

Posted 11 August 2014 by Courtney Sloane (NTEU National Office)

La Trobe University staff and students rallied today in a continuing campaign against 350 job cuts at La Trobe.  Hundreds of staff and students gathered in the Agora to voice their opposition, starting with a song about the damage the cuts will cause before statements about the impacts of the cuts were read. 

Dr Colin Long, NTEU Division Secretary, said “Staff and students are totally opposed to the cuts.  The Vice Chancellor claims the cuts are necessary because of the University’s financial situation, but that claim has been well and truly disproved,” Dr Long said.

The cuts the Vice Chancellor wants to make are unnecessary, and our academic and professional members consider the cuts will damage the viability of the University,” he said.

La Trobe University Student Union Education (Public Affairs) Officer, Jasmine Ingram agrees, saying that La Trobe students oppose the cuts. 

“Staff cuts mean fewer choices and support for students – there will be fewer courses and subjects, and fewer support staff such as faculty, library and laboratory staff. 

“Academic staff will be under even greater pressure, meaning they will have even less time to spend with students. 

“This is not fair to students who pay a substantial amount for their education, and will make La Trobe less appealing to any future students.”, Ms Ingram said.

Statements read at the rally that clearly resonated with staff and students were, “None of what has been done to my area makes any financial, academic or rational sense,” and “It is a reminder of what the lawyers, managers and financial officers usually miss in their planning for staff cuts - the social and emotional glue that binds people and creates a vibrant, dynamic working and learning space. What a terrible step backwards we have taken.”   

The rally also condemned the Chancellor’s refusal of NTEU’s request to speak to a staff and student petition at today’s University Council meeting, and called on University Council to hold an urgent out of session meeting to hear staff and student concerns. 

“As the governing body of the University, we consider University Council should be made aware of the damage these cuts would cause. It goes against the principles of academic rigor and rational argument to exclude staff from presenting to the University Council,” Dr Long said.

“Given Council members have legal responsibilities that may have ramifications for their other professional activities; we would expect them to ensure that they are fully briefed about the real situation at La Trobe.

“Their refusal to hear all the information suggests an irresponsible attitude to their legal and professional responsibilities,” Dr Long said.