La Trobe University management meets with students

IN A meeting with students at the Bendigo campus on Wednesday, La Trobe University management said cuts to staffing would be more in the vicinity of 70 positions, rather than 170 as previously reported.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and vice-president for Future Ready, Brian McGaw, Pro Vice-Chancellor Richard Speed and Bendigo campus head Rob Stephenson took questions from concerned students and staff on a range of issues.

When a student asked if management could give an indication of how many positions would be likely to go, Professor McGaw said it would be about 70.

The three management heads gave an address to the audience and then the audience asked questions.

Students voiced concern for low staff morale, the nature of management's consultation process and fears that staff's forced departure could be detrimental to the quality of their education.

Several students and staff had questions about the visual arts department because of fears the majority of teaching jobs are in jeopardy.

One student said she was concerned for the quality of her photojournalism course if her teachers had to leave the institution. 

"I came (to the La Trobe Bendigo campus) because of those teachers," Tashara Roberts said.

An education student said proposed staff cuts to the education department were at odds with management's desire to make La Trobe Bendigo a more attractive study destination for students. 

He said one of the best aspects of his course was the one-on-one learning opportunities he'd had with staff - something he feared future students might not have. 

"I've had a great time but I don't know what the future's like studying this course," he said.

A staff member said poor internet connection meant class work and assessments were being disrupted, disadvantaging rural students.

Professor Speed, Professor McGaw and Mr Stephenson said they understood concerns but that changes were being made in order to make the university better, not worse. They said online learning was important for La Trobe to cater for students who needed to study out of hours. 

Bendigo Student Association president Jessica Robertson said her concern was for student support services.

Miss Robertson said seeing a person face to face was important to maintain a high level of education. 


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