News

Draft Change Proposal - clarifications and extended consultation process


9 December 2011

Dear academic staff,

From responses we have received to the Draft Change Proposal as it affects academic staff, there appear to be two particular misconceptions: that staff will be considered for redundancy purely on the basis of their ERA outputs, and that this process will automatically reduce the quality of teaching in the University. I am writing to assure you that neither of these is correct, and to let you know that in order to ensure we have properly captured all suggestions and alternative viewpoints, we have extended the consultation period to 16 January.

While the Draft Change Proposal requires staff to be considered by their Faculty Assessment Panel if they have had three publications or fewer since January 2009, the Faculty Panels are explicitly charged with taking into account matters such as teaching and/or administrative workload allocated by the faculty, extended periods of leave, early-career status, pending publications and work undertaken on long-term projects such as books or longitudinal studies. The impact of any outcomes of this process must also take into consideration the faculty's planned teaching in 2012 and 2013.

Our Draft Change Proposal has been designed to take account of the highly valuable contributions made by staff through teaching, postgraduate supervision and curriculum development, as well as in research. We are really looking very closely at all criteria in order to establish which staff should be offered redundancies or alternative arrangements such as pre-retirement contracts or a rebalancing of their duties.

No final decision will be made about how the University will proceed, however, until we have undertaken a thorough consultation process in accordance with the change management clauses in our Enterprise Agreement. Unfortunately, this does mean that we will not be in a position to provide staff with any certainty about the final outcomes of the change process until February 2012. I am sorry that this will create some anxiety and uncertainty during this period. If you are worried about your own situation, if you think you may be under consideration in this way, please talk to your dean, who can at least discuss what your options would be if the Draft Change Proposal is implemented.

I do want to emphasise that we are committed to the consultation process, and genuinely want to hear your concerns and suggestions. This is a proposal driven by the imperative to balance our budget. In our view, the criterion of relative contribution is a less arbitrary and fairer way to meet this pressing need than alternatives such as identifying 'most recently appointed staff' or 'anyone who wishes to take a voluntary package'. If there are other fair and workable ways to achieve the required staff-related savings, I would be very interested to hear them during the consultation process. Please email university.consultation@sydney.edu.au with any suggestions.

If you have not done so already, I would urge you to read the questions and answers on the University's website. They will help to clarify the situation. If you are unsure about any related matters, you can also approach your dean, head of school or HR adviser who will be able to help you.


Yours sincerely

Michael Spence