THE National Tertiary Education Union has expressed its disappointment in La Trobe University's recent announcement to potentially cut staff at its Bendigo campus.
In a release sent on Wednesday, NTEU La Trobe Branch president Alysia Rex said the university should "look for alternative savings measures to sacking staff".
"The federal government has shown complete disregard for the university sector during the COVID-19 pandemic and this puts the university in a difficult position," she said.
"I am disappointed John Dewar has made this announcement without exhausting all other options.
"I urge Professor Dewar to work with the union to find alternatives to involuntary redundancies. Staff have shown great loyalty and sacrifice over the past year and deserve better."
It is unknown how many La Trobe Bendigo staff members could be affected with a university proposal to cut an estimated 200 full-time positions across its campuses.
University managers addressed staff on the planned changes on Wednesday morning.
"The change proposal has been developed to ensure La Trobe is in a strong position for future growth," a statement from the university said.
"It will secure our financial position in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to have major implications for the finances and operations of all universities across Australia.
"Our campus in Bendigo will continue to play an important role in the social, cultural and economic prosperity of the city, aligned with the City of Greater Bendigo's Economic Development Strategy 2020-2030."
The changes could affect multiple campuses including Bendigo.
As part of the proposal, the university also plans to create about 300 new positions to address "workforce need".
The statement said some current staff facing redundancies would be offered opportunities under the new structure.
The university will consult with staff for three weeks and review the proposal before making a final decision.
Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters said it was a sad day for La Trobe University.
"La Trobe's announcement today in terms of forced redundancies is completely heartbreaking and very distressing for not only the staff involved, but the students," she said.
"Ultimately this is the fault of Scott Morrison and his government.
"Their refusal to grant JobKeeper access to the universities hit them hard financially last year and their refusal to uncap domestic university student places meant that the institution will be running at a loss this year and next year.
"This is because international students aren't expected to return until after 2022. And that's if everything goes well with the coming out of the pandemic, which it's not."
More to come
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