University of Melbourne management has failed to communicate adequately with staff about planned changes and redundancies, according to a range of professional staff.
In an email to staff on Monday, Senior Vice-Principal Ian Marshman acknowledged that staff were asking for more information about the university’s Business Improvement Program. Staff had been asked to submit feedback and queries via email.
Under the program, 540 staff members will be made redundant, and many others will be moved to a new centralised services division.
In the email, Mr Marshman said: “it is clear that a proportion of staff are seeking further information to assist their consideration of the proposed changes.”
Raena Armitage is a Content Production and Training Specialist at the university. She is also the University of Melbourne Vice-President for Professional Staff at the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU).
She wrote a submission to the university asking for more information about the university’s work on digital and online channels, as well as in marketing and communications.
“I think it’s time to make a submission because if they’re serious about it then they’ll read it and they’ll consider it,” Ms Armitage said.
“That said, I don’t see that their behaviour so far has necessarily indicated that they are interested in genuine consultation.”
She felt the university had not provided enough information about the BIP.
“It was apparent from the beginning of this consultation period – from just asking people to write in about this – that the information they gave us wasn’t enough.”
She has also spoken to NTEU members who felt they had been pressured not to discuss the program. “Staff who have genuinely wanted to reach out and say, ‘What’s going on?’ have been bopped on the head and told not to ask.”
Student adviser in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences Kent Getsinger has planned on making a submission to the university. He agreed that internal communications at the university are not maintained well.
“There is a strong consensus amongst staff that there is not enough information and many have stated that the internal information process is intentionally misleading,” he said.
“The university has launched a BIP website, but most feel that it does not answer specific, detailed questions about the forthcoming changes in relations as to where current work will be done.”
Mr Getsinger, who is also a Melbourne Branch Committee Member for the NTEU, said: “The constant phrase of the university is that ‘the details have not been worked out’. However most fail to see how this will work without having some concrete idea of what such details would be.”
Ms Armitage also said that the process feels rushed and chaotic.
“To some extent there’s probably some truth in the fact that they don’t know what’s going on. But they’ve made some assumptions, that they are just going to let it roll out over the next 18 months because that’s when they want it finished,” she said.
“Maybe you can run a kid’s birthday party that way, but you can’t run Australia’s best university like that.”
Staff must make submissions to the university today by emailing Consultation-Feedback@unimelb.edu.au