Southern Cross University has rallied its most senior leaders to develop a pathway out of its financial pressures to a transformed institution.
Chancellor Nick Burton Taylor convened an Extraordinary Meeting of the University Council on Thursday (June 4) that endorsed a roadmap to drive a recovery and resurgence agenda.
Southern Cross is facing a budget shortfall of up to $58 million over the next two years due to the COVID-19 induced downturn, particularly the loss of international students to Australia. This was outlined by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Adam Shoemaker, in an address to staff on Monday.
Mr Burton Taylor said the recovery this year and next would mean some cuts and job losses.
“It would be improper and misleading to suggest otherwise,” he said.
The Chancellor committed the University to an open and sensitive process over the coming months as the reforms are set in place.
“Because of who we are and where we live, we have an enhanced sense of obligation to the community around the actions we have to take; but take them we must,” he said.
“This does not weaken our resolve but makes us highly sensitive to the social cost of any actions undertaken.
“It would be easy, for instance, to close the smaller of our campuses but that would destroy our fundamental purpose as a regional university connected to its community.
“Our ambition is to create a university capable of managing diverse and small campuses, so we are committed to maintaining our current campus structure.”
A high-level Planning Ahead Committee was formed three weeks ago to oversee reforms in the academic area, research, campuses and professional services, with initial plans ratified yesterday.
“Every university in Australia is facing its own challenges,” Mr Burton Taylor said.
“There is no white knight coming down the road to our rescue. Our issues are local and I believe we can solve them ourselves.”
Southern Cross had a strong balance sheet and a successful international student program prior to the COVID-19 crisis.
The Planning Ahead Committee brings together the most senior executives of the University and University Council member Jonathan Rourke to streamline operations, identify savings and continue with larger projects that will help position Southern Cross for the future.
“The number one priority is to enhance our teaching and research for the benefit of students, and improving Southern Cross’s financial stability is key to that,” Mr Burton Taylor said.