CSU’s rejection of job protection highlights university corporatisation

Charles Sturt University’s rejection of a job protection framework negotiated by its own Vice-Chancellor is a failure of university governance and reflects the sector’s corporatisation.

CSU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Vann, was one of four university executives who negotiated a national agreement designed to save 12,000 jobs. The agreement allowed for cost saving measures including potential temporary pay reductions in return for actions to protect jobs.

The University has now backtracked on the agreement.

“NTEU negotiated the job protection framework with Professor Andrew Vann in good faith. Now he is walking away from his own agreement because his own governing council won’t let him implement it at his own university,” said Dr Alison Barnes, National President of the NTEU. “Does he believe it was a good agreement or not?

“It’s clear that the Charles Sturt University council was uncomfortable with having its accounts independently scrutinised and limiting management’s capacity to unnecessarily sack staff.

“It is remarkable to see a university council reject a job saving package authored by its own Vice-Chancellor, all because corporate figures on its board are allergic to scrutiny.

“The bald truth is that university councils are not supposed to get involved in day-to-day management of staff, which is rightfully the prerogative of Vice-Chancellors. We are seeing extraordinary mission creep at Charles Sturt University, which has clipped the wings of its own Vice-Chancellor.

“Unfortunately, this is reflective of university councils overreaching their mandate on many campuses. Over the past decade, governments have appointed corporate lawyers and management consultants to university boards. This has seen universities pursue flashy building projects at the expense of secure jobs.

“Charles Sturt University has not only failed its staff, it has badly failed the regional NSW communities that rely on it as an economic bedrock. It is highly likely the University will now pursue job cuts at Bathurst, Albury Wodonga, Dubbo, Orange, Port Macquarie and Wagga Wagga.

“The people of these communities should know that Charles Sturt University actively rejected an agreement to save jobs.”

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