Up to 145 jobs could be cut and more than 600 subjects are expected to be discontinued at Charles Sturt University in what the union says is a blow to regional economies and students.
The university began a Sustainable Futures program in March as the coronavirus crisis exacerbated the expected budget deficit to $49.5 million in 2020.
Acting vice-chancellor Professor John Germov said in a statement the university had identified between 100 and 110 full time equivalent positions for potential redundancy and a further 35 full time equivalent vacant positions that would not be filled.
It has begun a review of staff positions, beginning with support staff in divisions and offices, with a second phase focusing on faculty staff to be initiated later in the year.
"We are working to minimise the impacts on staff and have already identified and made changes to make savings across our operations," Professor Germov said.
"Unfortunately we cannot avoid job losses."
National Tertiary Education Union CSU branch president Dr Helen Masterman-Smith said the number of staff let go was likely to be higher when part-time positions were taken into account as the university systematically looked at staff cuts in every division, department and campus location.
She said it was the worst possible time for the higher education sector to be shrinking as it should be treated as means for economic stimulus and to attract people to regional areas.
"The implications for shrinking degree offerings, campus services and the staff and workforce in a regional community is exponentially greater in a regional context."
Voluntary redundancies will be offered in limited circumstances while affected staff might be able to move to part-time roles, job swap with a person in a similar position who would prefer to leave, purchase leave or negotiate pre-retirement contracts.
The university will publish change plans for seven departments on Wednesday, June 24, with staff required to provide feedback within three weeks.
"It's a very anxious moment here at the university," Dr Masterman-Smith said.
Charles Sturt University will also make changes to its course offerings, with more than 600 out of 4751 subjects offered in 2019 set to be discontinued. This represents a 13 per cent reduction in courses.
The subjects identified for discontinuation had fewer than 10 student enrolments, with 550 of these subjects in 2019 having no students enrolled in them.
The university has flagged some courses could be moved to online delivery only. They may reduce intakes for some courses and teach out subjects that have not attracted a minimum number of students.
Professor Germov said the vast course offerings were inefficient and needed to be scaled back.
"Subjects with only a few students are not only financially non-viable, but do not deliver a great student experience," he said.
"We are spread too thin, and this also affects the quality of our subjects offered."
Final decisions on which courses will be discontinued or altered will be made in two phases, with phase one to be completed by August and phase two to be finished by September.
"No student will be disadvantaged," Professor Germov said.
"It's important for everyone to know that even if a course will no longer take enrolments with a view to discontinuation, every student in the course will be able to finish their course with us."
Senior executives have taken a 10 per cent pay cut in 2020 and the university is exploring revenue generation opportunities.
Charles Sturt University has campuses in Canberra, Albury-Wodonga, Bathurst, Dubbo, Orange, Port Macquarie, Wagga Wagga, Goulburn and Sydney and study centres in Melbourne, Brisbane and Wangaratta.