Southern Cross University vice chancellor and president Professor Adam Shoemaker on the Lismore Campus. PHOTO: Marc Stapelberg
Southern Cross University vice chancellor and president Professor Adam Shoemaker on the Lismore Campus. PHOTO: Marc Stapelberg

SCU considers drastic measures to manage $58m black hole

AS THE community reels to news of Southern Cross University's $58 million shortfall, the Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker has spoken about how they will work to solve the fiscal crisis.

But Prof Shoemaker acknowledged the university will not return to life pre-pandemic.

"We are not returning - we never will return - to the way we were before COVID-19 struck," he said.

"There is no return to an ideal state. There is a new world of work and of academic work ahead of us … no option of a return to what used to be thought of as the 'status quo'. That ship has sailed permanently."

Prof Shoemaker outlined the scale of the COVID-19 induced financial battle it would face over the next two years.

He said things would never be the same again and the university needed to face this head-on.

In a video address to all staff on Monday, Prof Shoemaker said the university calculated a shortfall of up to $58 million over the next two years.

"I cannot sugar-coat this," he said in the video.

"We are experiencing an economic crisis which is still building in intensity.

"Southern Cross University stands at a critical juncture.

"The decisions and actions that we take together over the coming weeks and months will either serve to secure our future; or see us lose the right to determine it."

Prof Shoemaker's address to staff outlined key issues being considered:

Withholding two wage increases proposed for July 2020 and July 2021

Staff voluntarily reducing their work hours

Further transformation across the institution through the proposed New Southern Cross Academic Model.

Prof Shoemaker said everyone was aware of the global devastation being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our immediate priority has been to secure the health and wellbeing of our students and colleagues," he said.

"We have done that incredibly well. But it is not over.

"We must now apply the same clear and unified focus on our response to the economic challenges which we face as an institution."

He said the university was now facing a critical loss of income due to drop in the of number international students.

"The financial impact on us in 2021 will definitely be greater than in 2020," he said.

"That is mainly due to the pipeline effects of the enormous downturn in international student recruitment which we have all seen. I wish it were different."


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