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Southern Cross proposes blueprint for future growth


Charlie Wood,
14 October 2020
Tyrone Carlin VC
Vice Chancellor Tyrone Carlin

Southern Cross University has today proposed major reforms that will establish a foundation for the institution’s long-term success.

A roadmap to a stronger financial footing and continued focus on the student experience was outlined by Vice Chancellor Professor Tyrone Carlin today in an address to University staff.

“Unfortunately this also involves some job losses as the University adjusts to a series of external shocks,” Professor Carlin said.

“This is, in part, a response to the really challenging and significant impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, including the loss of international students,” Professor Carlin said.

“But it is also the continuation of a process of deep reflection on the need to create a University that is genuinely distinctive with sustainable and impactful models for education, research and support services.

“The proposed changes are also designed to take account of an additional set of forces that will be brought to bear on the University as a result of recently legislated changes to Commonwealth funding arrangements for education and research.”

The reforms propose a change to four academic Faculties rather than six Academic Schools, to bring together expertise, reduce duplication and ensure the very best teachers interact with as many students as possible. The academic Faculties will be:

  • Health
  • Science and Engineering
  • Education
  • Business, Law and Arts.

Impactful research remains a priority for Southern Cross and the integration of leading researchers with their academic disciplines and teaching areas would foster even greater knowledge and enquiry, Professor Carlin said.

Support activities such as finance, marketing and human resources management would evolve into centrally-provided shared services.

“This will help with the delivery of consistent and exemplary standards across all areas of the University,” the Vice Chancellor said.

Southern Cross staff are now invited to provide feedback on the proposals as they move through the consultation process over the coming months.

The proposed reforms would ultimately result in the reduction of about 63 full-time equivalent staff. The University employs about 1,700 people.

“There is no easy option for Southern Cross and we have done all we can to minimise job losses. Wherever appropriate staff will be offered redeployment opportunities but there will be some roles that are no longer required,” Professor Carlin said.

“Importantly, our commitment to our three main campuses at Lismore, Coffs Harbour and the Gold Coast remains steadfast.

“This has been a challenging year for almost everyone in Australia but these reforms will make Southern Cross University stronger and more viable as we step into an ever more competitive higher education landscape.”

Southern Cross announced earlier this year that the COVID-induced crisis had created a budget shortfall in 2020-21. Initially forecast at $38 million, that figure has been revised down to $33 million. Non-salary savings of almost $10 million have been made this year. A proposal in July for salary savings that would have saved the University another $5.6 million was voted against by staff.

Southern Cross is teaching all classes online at present, with most staff working from home and only limited access to campuses as the COVID-19 restrictions continue to impact.