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Victoria University to cut 300 jobs

The Age logo The Age 30/04/2014 Benjamin Preiss and Nick Toscano
a © Jean-Pierre Clatot/AFP/Getty Images a

Victoria University will cut about 300 jobs in a bid to save up to $50 million by 2016.

The university's vice-chancellor Peter Dawkins said about 200 of the cuts would affect professional staff and the rest academic staff.

The university announced its council had endorsed a "refreshed strategic plan" to better position it for the "new competitive tertiary marketplace".

A plan to become Australia's sports university was a "major confirmation" of the university's direction, Professor Dawkins said.

"We are convinced that we are already on the right track, having the largest number of students enrolled in sports-related higher education courses in Australia and having a strong focus on industry partnerships and work-integrated learning in our critical industry sectors,'' he said.

Professor Dawkins said the university was aiming for a "sustainable future" through a range of measures, including minimising red tape and reducing staff numbers. He said the university needed to find $40 million to $50 million of "recurrent savings" by 2016.

''At Victoria University, like a number of other universities, without decisive action to streamline our operations and cut costs, our cost pressures will race ahead of revenue growth."

The announcement comes amid fierce debate about the funding for Australia's university sector. Earlier this week federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne gave a speech in London that appeared to open the door to extending taxpayer funding to private universities.

Victoria University also includes a TAFE wing.

The National Tertiary Education Union's Victoria University branch secretary Paul Adams said tens of millions of dollars in state and federal government cuts had placed unprecedented pressure on VU to find savings.

"If governments want an education sector that is going to function, they have to put more money into it, and universities raising student fees isn't the way to do that ... it will more likely create a disincentive for students."

Dr Adams said the latest round of job cuts should be a warning to the federal government against its drive to privatise more universities.

"If what happens to our TAFE sector is anything to go on, the privatisation option being talked about [would] have a huge impact on universities, and lead to the demise of regional universities."

In its 2013 annual report the university said revenue had declined compared with 2012. It reported both State and Federal Government funding had fallen.

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