BATHURST MP Paul Toole has demanded an assurance from Charles Sturt University that it will not downgrade its campuses in the region in response to a plummeting financial position that has seen a $118 million turnaround in its net position in just five years.
Mr Toole, who is also the deputy leader of the NSW Nationals, says he has written a series of letters to the CSU board of directors in recent weeks outlining concerns over the university's falling revenues, imminent course restructures and possible staff cuts.
"It's clear. CSU needs to be more transparent in explaining to the public the reasons for the alarming decline in operating results over the past four annual reports, going from a positive result of $38 million in 2015 to a reported $80 million deficit in 2020," Mr Toole said.
"I've asked the board to explain to the community how they can go from a $38 million net result to a reported $80 million deficit in such a short period of time."
As CSU embarks on a bold building program art other campuses, including a new medical school in Orange, Mr Toole has sought assurances over the future of the Bathurst campus.
"I have been contacted by various members of the local community over the past six months who have raised issues relating to potential job losses or local courses being cut or downgraded," he said.
"As the local member and a former student of CSU Bathurst, I want assurances ... that there are no plans for the Bathurst campus to be downgraded into the future or to remove any of our marquee courses like nursing, teaching, journalism, paramedics or engineering."
Mr Toole acknowledged the difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but said CSU's financial position was sliding well before the coronavirus crisis hit.
"The operations of the university appear to have been in decline for several years now before COVID-19 ... an $80 million deficit does not creep up overnight," he said.
Mr Toole CSU should share with the people of Bathurst its vision for the future of the Bathurst campus and its plans to ensure an increase in student numbers "to create a viable and sustainable model here in Bathurst".
CSU earlier this month announced a transformation program, Sustainable Futures, to reshape and reposition the university.
It said the program would build on CSU's strengths to ensure a financially and academically sustainable future.
"Like many sectors, universities are facing significant hardship in the coming years," vice-chancellor Professor Andrew Vann said.
"At Charles Sturt, we have a decline in revenue of $80 million, the majority of which is associated with our international program.
"We must act quickly and with purpose to remediate this financial position."
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