The University of Auckland has asked staff to use up their annual leave and temporarily reduce working hours to reduce costs.
In an email to university staff last week, Vice Chancellor Dawn Freshwater said while a net surplus of $32.6 million was predicted before COVID-19, the university is now forecasting a net loss of $63.7 million for 2020.
This was caused by decreasing fee revenue of $41 million due to falling numbers of domestic and international students in 2020, a drop in research revenue of around $35 million, $24 million reduction in revenue outside of teaching and research such accommodation, recreation and support, and the need to absorb additional costs related to Covid-19.
The university has already implemented cost saving measures, including reducing travel costs, deferring recruitment, non-essential purchase equipment and non-essential property works.
The Vice Chancellor has earlier said in a virtual staff meeting in April that the university will be looking to shift the duties of casual employees to permanent staff.
Freshwater said this was not enough.
“Returning the University to a strong financial position will require us to achieve the right balance of capital, operational and people spend.”
“It is therefore likely the University will need to reduce staff numbers in the future in order to achieve a sustainable position.”
Staff who have a positive annual leave balance are now asked to take as much leave as possible to reduce their annual leave balances to a maximum of 2 weeks by the end of January 2021, with the university saying its annual leave liability is over $35 million.
The email also said the university may consider temporarily reducing staff’s hours to working 4-day weeks or 9-day fortnights, while pay reviews for the university’s executive, professional staff, and some academic staff, including professors, associate professors and some professional teaching fellows, will not be conducted this year.
They will also not reimburse staff the cost for working at home.
However, academic promotions will still proceed.
While there were still no plans for the university to lay off staff, the university added in the staff email that they are developing an enhanced retirement scheme and are considering a voluntary severance option.
It also said the vast majority of the university’s executive have committed to make voluntary donations towards student support funds, but the email did not say how much was donated and it also asked staff to make similar donations as well.
Victoria University has already said in late April it is considering cutting wages by 20 percent or moving to a four-day week to help to cope with a $50 million income decrease.
Lincoln University asked its staff to volunteer for a 5 percent wage cut in April, while acting Vice-Chancellor Bruce McKenzie had cut his own pay by ten percent for six months and no senior manager would be accepting pay rises or bonuses.