14 December 2020

103 positions set to go at ANU College of Science

| Ian Bushnell
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ANU science

The ANU is restructuring its workforce and offerings across its scientific research schools. Photo: ANU.

The ANU says it will have to narrow the focus of its scientific research, teaching and public engagement in the wake of cuts to the College of Science as part of the University’s Recovery Plan.

The ANU is making cuts across the campus to save $103 million a year to 2023 in response to the effects of the pandemic, including the loss of income from international students, mainly from China.

It is proposed that the College of Science take a net loss of up to 103 positions in a shakeup across the Centre for the Awareness of Public Science; the Research School of Biology, the Research School of Chemistry, the Research School of Earth Sciences, and the Research School of Physics.

There have been 75 voluntary separations so far, with up to another 55 possible separations to come and 27 new roles recruited.

Consultation on the proposal closed on Tuesday and the university is now combing through the feedback, before the scheduled publication of an implementation plan on 14 December.

The positions in the firing line are a mixture of academic and professional staff as part of a restructure of academic, technical and administrative workforces.

It will mean the loss or absorption of some disciplines into other areas.

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In the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, science communication research is to be narrowed and will not have a dedicated academic, although it will be supported into the future by other Centre staff.

In the Research School of Biology, a number of professional staff, including administrative, technical and specialist staff, have voluntarily departed or will depart the School due to their fixed-term contract coming to a close this year.

In the Research School of Chemistry up to half of the second year courses could be consolidated and/or axed and it is expected that there will be fewer second and third-year courses overall.

There will also be a restructuring of the administrative and technical teams, and the RSC/RSB Joint Workshop will be axed and the positions redistributed between the two Schools.

The Research School of Earth Sciences will also be restructured and there will be a focus on areas that can generate external revenue, and help pursue tightened strategic research goals including energy and resources, and climate change.

It is proposed that the Research School of Physics be restructured from eight departments to five.

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An ANU spokesperson said the proposed changes would not affect the quality of its scientific research and teaching, but it would have an impact on the quantity, and what the University was able to teach and research in the future.

”We face tough choices and these are not choices we want to be making,” the spokesperson said. ”And we are not the only university in Australia that faces these difficult decisions.

”We are not making these decisions lightly. These decisions are about ensuring the University’s financial recovery and continued strength as we deal with the harsh reality and consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

”The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the entire University and its operations, and every part of ANU is making difficult decisions and sharing the load, just as every part of ANU has contributed to Australia’s COVID response.”

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