Peter Ridd’s James Cook University “Dramatic Drop in Student Enrolment”

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Essay by Eric Worrall

Perhaps a reputation for trampling academic freedom has consequences.

James Cook University to cut 130 jobs to combat dramatic drop in student enrolment

ABC North Qld / By Lily Nothling and Jade Toomey

A North Queensland university is planning to slash 10 per cent of its workforce as student enrolment continues to plummet.

Key points:

  • JCU plans to cut 130 jobs, about a tenth of its workforce 
  • It hopes to claw back millions of dollars lost by a drop in student enrolment
  • The university said more redundancies could be offered in coming years

James Cook University (JCU) has revealed a proposal to cut about 130 jobs from its pool of 1,300 staff at its Townsville and Cairns campuses.

Vice Chancellor Simon Biggs said JCU had experienced a 25 per cent reduction in domestic students in past five years.

He said the job cuts would allow the university to claw back $11 million in salary costs annually.

“Simply put, our student load has been declining for some years and universities in Australia are paid according to the number of students they teach, but our staff load has not declined in the same period,” Professor Biggs said.

Read more: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-09-16/james-cook-university-job-cuts-amid-falling-enrolment/101444954

The impact on staff;

15 SEP 2022 4:11 PM AEST

James Cook University wants to slash 10 per cent of professional jobs

James Cook University has released a radical proposal which would slash 10 per cent of professional staff positions.

The Change Management Proposal (attached) puts forward cutting 130 out of 1313 professional staff jobs at the university.

The plan would make 78 staff redundant and scrap 52 unfilled positions.

A three-week consultation period closes on Friday 7 October, with a final Change Plan to be released three weeks later on 27 October.

Quotes attributable to NTEU Queensland Secretary, Michael McNally:

“This will be devastating to those people who have found out that their position is proposed to be made redundant. It is likewise devastating to those colleagues who remain behind who face the double whammy of losing friends and colleagues and having to pick up the work that is inevitably left behind.”

…Read more: https://www.miragenews.com/james-cook-university-wants-to-slash-10-per-855365/

Why is James Cook University having such problems attracting students?

Part of the reason might be a widespread perception of JCU hostility towards academic freedom. Peter Ridd is not the first academic James Cook University was publicly accused of mistreating. Before Ridd was Bob Carter, a professor emeritus who even had his library pass stripped, apparently because of his climate skepticism.

Peter Ridd’s alleged mistreatment caused such public outrage, a new federal law was passed, to boost protection for academic freedom.

What impact to these high profile public scandals have on student perceptions? If JCU has no hesitation mistreating well known tenured professors, how do they treat junior professors and students who fall afoul of university management? People who do not yet have the stature to draw public attention to their situation? You don’t have to be a climate skeptic, to worry that one day it might be your turn to draw the attention of JCU management.

Perhaps JCU is not as diabolical as I believe – I am not a member of the JCU faculty, nor have I ever been a student there. Perhaps there is another explanation for the drop in enrolments, like difficulties finding a job in fields JCU specialises in teaching.

Whatever the truth, the optics are not good. Alleged mistreatment of professors, falling student numbers, and a new federal law to uphold academic freedom, apparently a direct response to JCU’s behaviour, do nothing to enhance James Cook University’s reputation as a good place to study or work.

via Watts Up With That?

September 16, 2022