The cuts at ANU are the most severe in percentage terms for the sector and come despite a decision two years ago to reduce the size of enrolments, keeping student numbers at almost half the size of other Group of Eight universities.
Meanwhile, UNSW Sydney said a voluntary redundancy program achieved only half the savings management was looking for so a further 256 full-time positions would be lost – an additional 3.8 per cent of the workforce.
Vice-chancellor Ian Jacobs said UNSW needed to save $380 million by the end of 2021 as international enrolments collapsed. It had cut expenses heavily and drawn on reserves but still needed $39 million, which would come from the compulsory redundancies.
“I deeply regret the impact on staff who will lose their jobs. All staff affected in this way will receive a redundancy package and we will do all that we can to assist them,” Professor Jacobs said.
International student commencements in the year to the end of June are down by only 13.4 per cent, according to the Department of Education.
Higher education commentator at the ANU Andrew Norton said the official data was “complex” and universities were anticipating a very bad start to 2021.
“About 40 per cent of commencements begin in the second half of the year. At the moment everyone is flying blind.”