Wielding the axe at ANU. $25 million in job cuts!

johnboy 26 March 2012 41

ANU’s Vice-Chancellor Ian Young has announced he’s planning to trim his budget by $40 million (or 5% of revenue):

We are not alone in having global and national financial circumstances cut into our bottom line.

Investment returns have declined in recent years. The 2012 budget indicates investment returns will be $30 million less than in 2011. This reduction directly impacts on the funds available to operate the University.

In addition, the significant capital investments made in recent years mean that depreciation costs have increased by approximately $10 million compared with 2011.

A number of these issues were discussed in my 13 December 2011 email to staff on the 2012 University recurrent budget.

These external factors, together with substantial wage increases (4.5 per cent in 2012) and services expenses (increase of $26 million in 2012) have meant that the 2012 budget has a projected surplus of only $14 million, or less than 1.5 per cent of total revenue.

The sector average is 4 per cent, a figure which the Commonwealth monitors as a measure of financial health.

We have now reached a point at which there is no option but to take bold action. If we do not act to reduce spending the University will be unable to invest in excellence, and will suffer a gradual decline in international standing and quality.

To bring things in he’s planning to cut $25 million in staff expenses and $15 million to improve business practices.


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41 Responses to Wielding the axe at ANU. $25 million in job cuts!
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Lazy I Lazy I 7:47 am 04 Apr 12

c_c said :

Those who want to read more details can find them here: http://about.anu.edu.au/strategy-reviews/financial

On the news tonight, it was said by Education Union reps that this was downsizing by stealth, and some of the language in the VC’s plans linked to above support that.

For example:

“Should the proposal as outlined here be adopted:

Engage external management consultant – 3 month study, implementation could be up to 2 years”

Implementation up to 2 years?

For something that has arisen with so little notice, seemingly in a panic, there’s a lack of urgency in that when the cuts might not be finished until after the budget period they’re trying to rain in spending for.

It would also suggest they don’t expect the ANU’s financial position to improve. I wonder when they’ll make another announcement in a future year about cuts.

I hope they packed an umbrella!

c_c c_c 11:09 pm 03 Apr 12

Those who want to read more details can find them here: http://about.anu.edu.au/strategy-reviews/financial

On the news tonight, it was said by Education Union reps that this was downsizing by stealth, and some of the language in the VC’s plans linked to above support that.

For example:

“Should the proposal as outlined here be adopted:

Engage external management consultant – 3 month study, implementation could be up to 2 years”

Implementation up to 2 years?

For something that has arisen with so little notice, seemingly in a panic, there’s a lack of urgency in that when the cuts might not be finished until after the budget period they’re trying to rain in spending for.

It would also suggest they don’t expect the ANU’s financial position to improve. I wonder when they’ll make another announcement in a future year about cuts.

HenryBG HenryBG 4:19 pm 27 Mar 12

EvanJames said :

HenryBG said :

Jim Jones said :

The ANU is highly regarded precisely because of the quality of it’s research.

I reckon an insufficient volume of that research has been aimed at finding out how to remediate apostrophic illiteracy in the general population.

I’d send round the hat for that project. It’s pretty incredible. On this site alone, I think you could show that more people now misuse apostrophes than use them correctly.

But it’s so haaard to use them correctly….

c_c c_c 3:47 pm 27 Mar 12

urchin said :

c_c said :

If all the did was teach what already exists, where would medicine be? We’d still be teaching med students that fever is caused by the blood becoming too hot and the cure for headache is to drill a hole in someone’s head.

If you’re being serious in your comment, then you would appear to be missing the point of University entirely.

Well, to give them some credit, drilling a hole in someone’s head–if one drills deep enough–*would* cure the headache.

I’m sure there’s no shortage of deadweight at the ANU just as there is in any large organisation. Will they actually succeed in getting rid of the people who ought to be gotten rid of? Doubtful. Probably because a fair number of the people who ought to be gotten rid of will be the ones put in charge of getting rid of people.

A number of senior academics have either quit or retired recently, and certainly a year or so ago, the new had of Social Sciences was waging a campaign to force out many staff in an underhanded way.

These cuts will be on top of the quieter cuts and attrition that has been going on for a while.

No doubt there is dead weight, but when the ANU says some of the savings will be in research, there is cause for concern.

EvanJames EvanJames 3:45 pm 27 Mar 12

poetix said :

Now I’m off to read something particularly useless.

http://stoppingoffplace.blogspot.com.au/2010/04/uselessness-of-everything.html

EvanJames EvanJames 3:41 pm 27 Mar 12

HenryBG said :

Jim Jones said :

The ANU is highly regarded precisely because of the quality of it’s research.

I reckon an insufficient volume of that research has been aimed at finding out how to remediate apostrophic illiteracy in the general population.

I’d send round the hat for that project. It’s pretty incredible. On this site alone, I think you could show that more people now misuse apostrophes than use them correctly.

When you see an “it’s” used as a possesssive, opening out the It’s to It Is or It Has renders the sentence nonsensical.

For the confused, “it’s” means it is, or it has. It never means that the it owns something.

HenryBG HenryBG 3:33 pm 27 Mar 12

Another way of saving money would be to cease providing no-charge University services to ex-chancellors who no longer work for the University.

p1 p1 3:21 pm 27 Mar 12

ThatUniStudent said :

Oh, and here’s another way to save money. Cancel all research. All of it. You won’t need to pay researchers and professors who waste public and private money on rubbish like what is the relationship between beer and dating in relationships or the influence of ingroups on television show choice. Instead go back to the roots of universaties as educational institutes and focus on some quality education. That will attract students back and make the ones there feel a little less like the university considers them to be walking ATMs.

At risk of jumping on the band wagon… they should cancel all undergrad teaching in it’s entirety. That way they can also sack any senior staff who are not producing anything new, leaving cheaper staff who are doing research in new and interesting things (the reason for Unis, after all).

Shame their money comes from being sausage factories. 🙁

urchin urchin 3:16 pm 27 Mar 12

c_c said :

If all the did was teach what already exists, where would medicine be? We’d still be teaching med students that fever is caused by the blood becoming too hot and the cure for headache is to drill a hole in someone’s head.

If you’re being serious in your comment, then you would appear to be missing the point of University entirely.

Well, to give them some credit, drilling a hole in someone’s head–if one drills deep enough–*would* cure the headache.

I’m sure there’s no shortage of deadweight at the ANU just as there is in any large organisation. Will they actually succeed in getting rid of the people who ought to be gotten rid of? Doubtful. Probably because a fair number of the people who ought to be gotten rid of will be the ones put in charge of getting rid of people.

c_c c_c 3:05 pm 27 Mar 12

ThatUniStudent said :

Oh, and here’s another way to save money. Cancel all research. All of it. You won’t need to pay researchers and professors who waste public and private money on rubbish like what is the relationship between beer and dating in relationships or the influence of ingroups on television show choice. Instead go back to the roots of universaties as educational institutes and focus on some quality education. That will attract students back and make the ones there feel a little less like the university considers them to be walking ATMs.

Trolling or dangerous stupidity, not sure.

ANU was (as Jim Jones pointed out rightfully) established as a research only institution to further knowledge in the Commonwealth. Indeed Universities have their genesis in the quest for knowledge, in researching and challenging concepts. They do nothing for society standing still, merely reading from an existing text book.

If all the did was teach what already exists, where would medicine be? We’d still be teaching med students that fever is caused by the blood becoming too hot and the cure for headache is to drill a hole in someone’s head.

If you’re being serious in your comment, then you would appear to be missing the point of University entirely.

HenryBG HenryBG 2:53 pm 27 Mar 12

Jim Jones said :

The ANU is highly regarded precisely because of the quality of it’s research.

I reckon an insufficient volume of that research has been aimed at finding out how to remediate apostrophic illiteracy in the general population.

dpm dpm 2:46 pm 27 Mar 12

ThatUniStudent said :

Oh, and here’s another way to save money. Cancel all research. All of it. …

Yeah, because people out there researching and discovering things like this (for example):
http://www.nature.com/nri/journal/v5/n11/abs/nri1714.html
are just wasting everyone’s time…..

poetix poetix 1:49 pm 27 Mar 12

ThatUniStudent said :

Oh, and here’s another way to save money. Cancel all research. All of it. You won’t need to pay researchers and professors who waste public and private money on rubbish like what is the relationship between beer and dating in relationships or the influence of ingroups on television show choice. Instead go back to the roots of universaties as educational institutes and focus on some quality education. That will attract students back and make the ones there feel a little less like the university considers them to be walking ATMs.

You are trolling, surely. Universities exist for research, not to be sausage factories spewing out half-educated but well-trained people into the workforce. I can’t believe that you think that a university is an ‘institute’. And for God’s sake, it’s spelt universities. I really despair at times for the future of this country. Now I’m off to read something particularly useless.

johnboy johnboy 1:42 pm 27 Mar 12

EvanJames said :

But who will develop new knowledge? And on the information superhighway, how will you determine what is worthy knowledge, and what is propaganda or just made up?

At a TAFE (and its various permutations) you might learn bucketloads of Facts, and memorise lots of Knowledge. At a proper university, you are meant to go somewhat beyond that.

Not the way ANU teaches.

Jim Jones Jim Jones 1:31 pm 27 Mar 12

ThatUniStudent said :

Oh, and here’s another way to save money. Cancel all research. All of it. You won’t need to pay researchers and professors who waste public and private money on rubbish like what is the relationship between beer and dating in relationships or the influence of ingroups on television show choice. Instead go back to the roots of universaties as educational institutes and focus on some quality education. That will attract students back and make the ones there feel a little less like the university considers them to be walking ATMs.

The ANU is highly regarded precisely because of the quality of it’s research. It was initially established *as* a research university.

Quick tip: Not everything is about you (hard to believe, I know, but this is actually true).

EvanJames EvanJames 1:30 pm 27 Mar 12

dungfungus said :

Once upon a time “knowledge was power” Only tertiary educated people had access to knowledge gained from higher learning. Then the “information highway” was surveyed and built.
In much the same way as on-line shopping is displacing traditional storefront shopping, the internet is making knowledge at any level available to everyone so there is really no point in going to a university to gain knowledge anymore.

But who will develop new knowledge? And on the information superhighway, how will you determine what is worthy knowledge, and what is propaganda or just made up?

At a TAFE (and its various permutations) you might learn bucketloads of Facts, and memorise lots of Knowledge. At a proper university, you are meant to go somewhat beyond that.

Jim Jones Jim Jones 1:29 pm 27 Mar 12

dungfungus said :

In much the same way as on-line shopping is displacing traditional storefront shopping, the internet is making knowledge at any level available to everyone so there is really no point in going to a university to gain knowledge anymore.

Try telling them that at a job interview.

dungfungus said :

how can so many smart people lose so much money in such a short time?

GFC

dungfungus said :

They can’t even provide adequate car parking for fee paying customers.

Try getting a park at any university in Sydney or Melbourne.

umehomes umehomes 12:38 pm 27 Mar 12

My friend took an ANU contract non-acdemic position last year and only stayed there about 2 month. She was working in the joint admin group for one of the colledge/school and according her, there are too much ‘flexi time’ during the day that you can finish a week work in 2 days. In addition, there is no career progress program or any promotion opportunity as old people want to holding their position until retirement because Unisuper pays up to 17%. For a person used to work in commercial industry, she said this is ‘killing herself” and do not want to waste time.

random random 12:33 pm 27 Mar 12

dungfungus said :

They can’t even provide adequate car parking for fee paying customers.

Staff parking at ANU is about $7/week for a surface permit, and a bit over double that for an allocated undercover space. Students get it cheaper. Market rate is more like $10/day — charging the same might pay for another few parking structures, or would at least free up some spaces…

pink_fit pink_fit 12:25 pm 27 Mar 12

NoAddedMSG said :

pink_fit said :

scrap middle management waste such as the joint admin group in the sciences area. God knows how many millions could be saved. And will the management that led the ANU into this precarious position be made accountable? Not on your life!

How is having a single joint admin group across two colleges instead of two separate admin groups wasteful?

Can you argue that another layer of bureaucracy is good business process when service levels decrease, costs rise and staff morale plummets at its introduction? Perhaps this highlights the upper management and administration failure requiring an intermediary to do the work.

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