Computer school set  for staff cuts

THE University of Tasmania’s Launceston computing school may be the first casualty of a massive staff overhaul, the tertiary union says.

National Tertiary Education Union state secretary John Kenny said yesterday that seven of the school of computing and information systems’ 10 academics based at Newnham received letters last week essentially telling them they were no longer required.

However, the university’s faculty of science, engineering and technology dean, Professor Margaret Britz, said computing programs in Launceston would not close down.

It is understood that two long-term academics had already accepted voluntary redundancies as part of the university’s staff redundancy process revealed in July 2012, meaning the latest axings leave only one academic.

The school is also home to the Australian computing research and teaching facility, HITLab.

Dr Kenny said it was “soul-destroying” for those who received letters.

He said this could be seen as the start of the forced redundancy process on the back of questionable performance measures.

“They’re putting them all through these contrived performance measures, which are totally arbitrary and applied retrospectively,” Dr Kenny said.

“This is just the start of what’s going to go through the whole university.”

The university has remained quiet on exactly how many staff it hopes to see go as part of the voluntary redundancy process, but the union has previously said it could be well in the hundreds.

Professor Britz said the school underwent an independent review in 2011 and it had provided the opportunity to implement strategic changes and reinvestments.

“We will reinvest in new staff to revitalise the Launceston programs with the aim of providing improved outcomes for students,” Professor Britz said.

“We anticipate that collaborative and interdisciplinary research with the school’s academic staff will be invigorated by the renewed research focus the changes will allow.”

Professor Britz said the HITLab would remain in Launceston and it hoped to announce a new director shortly.

She said the university was committed to providing computing programs across the state.

Dr John Kenny

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