PROPOSED changes to La Trobe University’s School of Education have been confirmed and are underway.
But the National Tertiary Education Union remains concerned the remodel will negatively affect the school, which has been part of Bendigo for about 100 years.
NTEU sub-branch secretary Dr Cathleen Farrelly said aspects of the decision-making process had been raised with the Fair Work Commission.
The changes were confirmed on December 14 – a week before the university closed for the festive season, and days after staffers and union representatives staged a protest at the Bendigo campus.
The NTEU was primarily concerned about what it claimed was a lack of transparency.
La Trobe pro vice-chancellor, Professor Simon Evans said the university was continuing to work with the union to clarify its concerns.
“Our intent is to maintain and enhance the quality of teacher education at all campuses,” Professor Evans said.
He said the changes would result in a small reduction in the overall size of the school, from 54 positions to 50.
Staff had been offered opportunities to position themselves to take on roles as part of the remodel, and had been involved in the consultation process.
“We received a lot of feedback,” Professor Evans said.
He said changes were made to the initial proposal as a result of the consultation process.
Professor Evans said the remodel would ensure the School of Education could remain present at all La Trobe campuses.
“Bendigo is one of the two largest sites where we teach teachers and will continue to be so,” he said.
Dr Farrelly said the NTEU was concerned many of the positions would be location-independent, potentially reducing the number of Bendigo-based staffers. She said it had traditionally been difficult to staff regional campuses.
Interest in voluntary redundancy packages was high among the Bendigo teacher education staffing cohort, as far as the union could ascertain.
Applications for new roles in the La Trobe School of Education are open until Friday, according to Dr Farrelly, who was concerned about the time frame.
“A large number of staff is taking leave at this time,” she said.
The changes were the result of significant regulatory and policy change in the teacher education landscape, according to Professor Evans. He also cited a softening interest in teaching programs nationwide.
The NTEU called on people to lobby La Trobe Chancellor Richard Larkins to postpone the changes until a school review, due to take place this year, is completed.
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