Statement on proposed changes

Monash, like many universities, will need to change some aspects of the way we operate, along with how and what we deliver, due to a shortfall in revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The closure of borders in 2020 has prevented the enrolment in Australia of many international students who would normally be on our campuses. As has been the case in many countries around the world, the ability of students to travel to other places to study has been restricted, and this is likely to continue in Australia into the beginning of next year.

This has reduced the funding for Australian universities in 2020 and into 2021, and likely beyond. The Australian Government has not provided financial support to universities to redress this downturn and so Monash, along with other Australian universities, has had to reduce its overall expenditure and make difficult decisions.  Monash has publicly reported that to address this significant revenue shortfall, some 277 FTE roles will need to be reduced from the University’s workforce. This reduction follows extensive consultation across the University, under the nationally negotiated and agreed Jobs Protection Framework, which received overwhelming support from 89 per cent of eligible staff in a recent vote.

Other Australian Universities have announced in recent months, similar or greater required workforce reductions.

The University is now in the process of consulting with staff and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) in regards to a proposed program of Voluntary Separation Packages (VSPs). A key principle of the VSP program is that staff workloads are not adversely affected.The University therefore established three taskforces to examine areas that may have the opportunity to reduce or remove current work, by changing the way the University does things and provide an opportunity to reduce staffing levels in particular areas, including subjects with low enrolments or insufficiency of work stemming from low enrolment and completions.

The number of units being proposed to be removed through this process are 103 - in comparison the University offers 5344 units each year (i.e. less than 2 per cent of our annual unit offerings are affected by this proposal). The majority of the units proposed to be no longer offered had an enrolment of less than 5 equivalent full time student load (EFTSL) in 2019.

Two of the University areas where changes are proposed are:

Theatre and Performance

As the change proposal clearly states, due to consistently low major completions and consistently low unit enrolments, it is proposed that the major will be transformed into a minor, and the Centre relocated to within Monash University’s Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music.

Musicology

Musicology and ethnomusicology subjects concerned are currently only offered as elective subjects at second and third-year levels and are not required by any students for the completion of degrees, majors or specialisations. These units have had consistently very low enrolments. Contrary to assertions made, these are the only music units being proposed to cease.

For current students there will be no changes to subjects for 2020, and any changes made will not affect completion of any studies. No student will be prevented from undertaking studies in theatre performance or in music, but the range of units on offer in these fields will be reduced.

Religious Studies

It has also been proposed to disestablish the Religious Studies minor, again due to consistently low student enrolments.

The change proposal includes a potential reduction of staff positions in these areas through voluntary separation based on a reduction in workload. This is a voluntary separation process, whereby interested staff in specific fields or departments areas have been invited to submit an expression of interest (EOI).

Art History and Theory

Monash University is not closing its Art History and Theory program. Monash is proud to be home to one of Australia’s most highly-regarded teams of art history and curating educators and researchers, and looks forward to many more successful years of developing the next generations of art history experts.

Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation (ACJC)

These proposed changes do not impact the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation (ACJC). Enrolment and unit numbers in the ACJC are robust. The Religious Studies minor is separate to the ACJC and does not impact it in any way.