The Australian National University (ANU) say they will have to commit to an additional 215 job cuts – on top of the existing 250 lost – to survive the financial turmoil the institution has experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ANU Recovery Consultation Plan, released today (16 September), outlined the need for the University to retain a cash reserve of three months’ operational expenses, or $250 million, by the end of 2020.
“The ANU needs to achieve an ongoing reduction in expenditure each year of $103 million,” the plan read.
“This requires savings in both non-salary and salary expenditure and will require a further reduction of 215 positions.
“We will aim to achieve as much of the salary savings as possible through further voluntary separations, with redundancies a last resort.”
To date, 230 ANU jobs have been cut with staff electing voluntarily separate and a further 20 are expected to do the same in the weeks to come.
According to the Plan, the deferment of 2020 and 2021 staff pay rises, which would have cost ANU $13.5M in 2021 alone, has saved up to 90 positions.
The ANU estimate total revenue to be $1.093 billion in 2021, down from $1.269 billion in 2018, with the decline due to the expected reduction in size of the student cohort.
The ANU’s international enrolments have dropped to levels below 2017 this year, and in their “best guess scenario” will see it likely fall further in 2021 (a 30% reduction from 2019).
“With no further action to address our cost base, ANU will face a deficit of $192 million in 2021 and a continuing deficit of similar magnitude per annum in 2022 and 2023,” the Plan read.
“In 2020, the global pandemic, local and natural disasters, international and national border closures and campus closures have caused a significant decline in our revenue.
“Our revenue projections for 2021 to 2023 are largely flat … It is essential that our expenditure reflects reductions in our revenue in the years ahead.”
ANU is limited in the amount of debt they can take on with the aggregate debt limit set by the Commonwealth Minister for Finance.
It was agreed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to increase the ANU’s debt limit to $800 million following a request from the University.
Currently, approximately $615 million of this limit has been utilised, although only $315 million of that utilised debt is currently drawn down.
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