QUT Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Margaret Sheil, today outlined to staff the university’s response to the challenges presented by COVID-19 as well as measures to position the university for a strong recovery in a fundamentally changed world.
Professor Sheil acknowledged the ongoing dedication and hard work of all the university staff to provide quality education and research in the current challenging environment, and the great level of care and support provided to QUT students.
Professor Sheil outlined four elements to the university response.
- A series of initial savings measures
- An organisational realignment
- The acceleration of the university’s digital transformation
- A review of strategy to deliver QUT’s strong and unique research and educational programs
Professor Sheil said the most urgent response involved a number of continuing measures to contain costs and define savings during 2020/2021, as the university is projecting an initial revenue shortfall up to $100 million in 2020.
“We have already paused the majority of our building programs and consolidated our administrative divisions (from 6 to 3). All of our senior staff have reduced their hours to a nine-day fortnight for the next 12 months, a move for which I am very grateful and one that marks the commitment of the 150 strong leadership team to QUT’s future,” she said.
The university has worked with the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the Together Union to propose to staff a variation to the current Enterprise Agreements.
Professor Sheil said that the negotiations with the NTEU and Together had been productive and were aimed at preserving as many jobs as possible as we work to address the challenges ahead.
The main points of the proposal, developed following feedback from staff and unions, include:
- Postponing the next two per cent wage increase until December 2021
- No leave loading accrued, or paid for the next 18 months
- Some changes to leave provisions (including COVID-19 leave, and the use of leave for Christmas shutdowns in 2020 and 2021)
- A moratorium on forced redundancies prior to 30 June 2021
- Commitments for retraining opportunities
- Maintenance of superannuation contributions (notwithstanding the cash effects of the above measures)
The formal access period for the proposed variations will be opened to staff on Wednesday 15 July for a vote later in the month.
Professor Sheil said the second element would involve a realignment of schools and faculties and institutes, with a discussion paper to be released later this week outlining the proposed direction to move from 2 institutes and 6 faculties to a more streamlined model of 5 faculties:
- Business and Law
- Creative Industries, Education and Society
- Health and Biomedical Innovation
- Science and Environment
She said a formal change plan for the division and faculty realignment will be released for consultation in mid-September with a view to implementation from 31 January 2021.
In a separate message to students she reiterated that they would continue to receive the same qualifications and quality education, but they would be invited to comment on different elements of the reforms.
The third element will centre around QUT’s ongoing digital transformation to ensure the university’s virtual campus offers the same quality teaching and learning experience to its two physical campuses.
“This will enable more flexible learning and give access to high quality QUT courses to a greater number of students throughout Queensland and more broadly throughout Australia,” Professor Sheil said.
The final element will involve a review of strategy and education offerings during the second half of 2020 and early 2021.
Professor Sheil said she looked forward to working with staff and the QUT community to ensure the university’s viability, sustainability and success in the future.