The University of Wollongong has confirmed it will cut 350 jobs by removing duplicated roles across campus and reviewing low-enrolment subjects.
UOW management told staff of its plans after talks aimed at keeping the university financially viable broke down on Wednesday.
Staff were presented with three options in June. The first two included pay cuts and job losses, with the last option being doing nothing.
But if no changes were approved, university management had warned UOW was considering axing up to 350 jobs if no pay cut was approved.
In an all-staff email, Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings wrote the "only route now available is to proceed with Option 3 of the preference survey and take the necessary steps to reduce our employment-related costs by reducing the workforce by approximately 200 additional jobs".
He said Option 3 "preserves individual employment conditions but will necessitate substantial institutional change".
This could involve cutting low-enrolment degrees.
"No doubt, reviewing our operations is going to be challenging but we will be guided by our commitment to ensuring a high quality learning experience for our students and our strategic goals to continue to deliver world-class research outcomes.
"We are determined to ensure the University will emerge in a more financially secure position, with a greater academic focus, more efficient structures and a stronger capacity to meet the needs of our communities," Professor Wellings said.
COVID-19 has left UOW with a projected $90 million shortfall in its 2020 budget that is expected to worsen in future years, urgently requiring significant across-the-board savings.
The University's Joint Consultative Committee (JCC)-comprised of management and both staff unions' representatives-held a series of meetings after being asked by the Vice-Chancellor to consider supporting the enterprise agreements variation offered to staff as 'Option 1' in a recent preference survey.
"In good faith, University management carefully considered the requests of unions, and offered potential solutions to issues raised, but ultimately these variations do not address the reality of the threats to UOW's ongoing sustainability," Prof Wellings said.
"The University's operations and staff cost more than $12M per week. For this reason, we cannot delay our decision making any longer. We have arrived now at a point where implementing Option 3 is the only way forward.
"I am deeply disappointed with this outcome as I had hoped to reach an alternative agreement that minimises job losses."
UOW's chief operating officer Damien Israel added no agreement was able to be reached with the unions primarily because both parties viewed the financial problem differently.
"We think the problem is a multi-year problem . We've been saying all along it is going to be with us at least until 2022. The unions were looking for a short-term agreement," Mr Israel said.
He wouldn't comment on whether 350 jobs would be slashed, other than to say "a large proportion of our costs are employer-related costs and we have been looking at ways of reducing that without losing jobs".
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