ANU proposal to close School of Legal Practice likely to cost academic jobs

The NTEU is disappointed that the Australian National University has proposed changes which, if implemented, will lead to the disestablishment of the School of Legal Practice. This could result in the loss of as many as 29 academic jobs in the College of Law. We are also concerned that ANU has potentially pre-empted the consultation process by prematurely announcing a decision not to offer programs in the School, and to teach out existing units.

The School of Legal Practice was established in 1971 and has a proud history of providing professional and respected accreditation for those seeking to practice law. Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (GDLP) and Master of Legal Practice (MLP) degrees from ANU are highly regarded, which speaks to the quality of the education provided by the School of Legal Practice and the dedication of its staff.

In seeking to justify the proposal to close the School, staff have been disappointed in the way that the University has sought to diminish their academic credentials. It is important to acknowledge that the degrees from the School of Legal Practice are highly regarded in the legal profession, and that this is due to the quality and professionalism of its staff.

The decision to close the school is instead driven by fiscal imperatives. ANU’s strategic direction has led it to cap student places, which has the unintended consequence of leaving the School in an unsustainable financial position. The presence of private providers, and the inability to draw in more students because of ANU’s strategic direction, have led to this situation in which 29 dedicated and hardworking staff now face the prospect of redundancy.

The NTEU is working with members through this difficult time to ensure that this process is managed according to the Enterprise Agreement, and that employees receive their entitlements in full. Further, we call on the University to actively involve the local School leadership in this transition period and to engage with staff on a basis which recognises and respects their contribution to the University over a long period of time.

As noted by Acting ACT Division Secretary Dr Cathy Day:

“We are disappointed in ANU’s proposal to abolish the School of Legal Practice, which will result in as many as 29 redundancies for academic staff in the School if it goes ahead. We will be working with members to ensure that ANU complies with the Enterprise Agreement and that they receive their full entitlements, including full redundancy entitlements for those who will stay on to teach out the relevant courses. It is incumbent on the University to treat these staff in a manner which recognises and respects their contribution to the University.”

As noted by ANU Branch President Matthew King:

“We are very concerned for our members who may lose their jobs as a result of ANU’s proposed changes. We need to recognise that these are highly skilled professionals who have made a great contribution to the University. Should the proposal proceed, it will be a loss for ANU.”

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