An open Council meeting at the University of New England (UNE) today to discuss the operational plans as part of phase two of the educational facility's restructure is set to be lively following a vote of no confidence in the Council yesterday at an all staff meeting.
"At a Zoom meeting held at 12:30pm yesterday members of staff at the UNE expressed their lack of confidence in the Council governing the University," said the spokesperson for the National Tertiary Education Union UNE Branch Committee Bea Bleile.
"The UNE Branch Committee of the NTEU called this all-staff meeting in response to the latest Council approved restructure which would abolish around 200 full-time positions at UNE and be devastating not only for UNE but for Armidale and the region."
Former president of the UNE NTEU branch committee Dr Tim Battin said that while UNE management may plan and execute restructures, approval as well as the responsibility for senior appointments rests with Council.
there have been widespread concerns about the vice-chancellor's interactions since shortly after her arrival at UNE- Dr Tim Battin
"Council also knew, or should have known, that there have been widespread concerns about the vice-chancellor's interactions since shortly after her arrival at UNE in July 2019," Dr Battin said.
"We are concerned here about the Council because what we are seeing is the latest in a trend - what governance oversight did Council provide to review the wasteful restructure of 2017 and what governance oversight is Council providing in the present change process?"
Ms Bailie said the motion stating a lack of confidence in the Council of the University." was carried with 112 votes in favour and attendance peaking at 126.
Addressing the media yesterday to announce the beginning of phase two of the restructure process UNE vice-chancellor Brigid Heywood said they had opened a twenty-day consultation period which involved all staff of the university and that everyone would have a say in the oldest regional university in Australia's future.
"I'm just over a year old in my role as vice-chancellor and I was brought in on the premise that I would contribute to a change agenda - that change agenda was about regional economic development and about fostering each of our places of operation to have a higher profile," she said.
"I think we've been going (in my language) gang-busters at that and all the way through COVID we kept moving.
"Sometimes the hard decision is the one you've got to make, and this was the time to do it. It's a process that takes six or seven months to work its way through and we started this back in March.
"We will get there - the community is necessarily stressed by this, but equally we have been overwhelmed actually with the narratives of support.
All the people who have to protest are protesting- Professor Brigid Heywood
"All the people who have to protest are protesting, in ways that one might reasonably expect them to do, and I think that is quite legitimate challenge - as long as it is done respectfully.
"But we also need to recognise that some of these are long standing issues and this is a recalibration issue it's not just a correction because of COVID - it's a recalibration of our baseline."