Inpex camp could solve CDU’s financial woes: Union

by | May 1, 2020 | News | 1 comment

THE former Inpex workers’ camp at Howard Springs could be the key to solving Charles Darwin University’s international students crises, according to the National Tertiary Education Union’s (NTEU) NT Division.

Yesterday the NT Independent revealed CDU faced a $22 million debt due to a projected drop in international student enrolments as a result of the coronavirus crises.

As a result, the university’s executives have agreed to an immediate 10-15 per cent pay cut and a possible 12-month pay freeze to staff will be negotiated.

NTEU’s NT Division president Dr Darius Pfitzner said he wanted the NT Government and CDU to work together to explore converting the former Inpex workers’ camp at Howard Springs into a ‘safe education hub’ for international students.

He said students could study there and it had the potential to make Darwin the most attractive place for international students to come to study.

“We can’t be negative about this, we have to be positive and supportive,” he told the NT Independent.

“We all have to pull together on this.”

The facility is currently being used by the NT Government as a coronavirus testing facility and to house some quarantined people. The facility is expensive to run, costing Territorians $2 million to maintain over nine months after the camp was handed over by Inpex.

Dr Pfitzner said he was looking forward to working with CDU to ensure the appropriate savings were made without a significant impact on the university’s staff.

“I am encouraged the university has been analysing its situation and is willing to engage with the union,” he said.

“But it is too early to comment about any proposals because there haven’t been any proposals.

“And the union looks forward to working with the university for the eventual benefit of its staff.”

In an email sent by Vice Chancellor Simon Maddocks to all staff yesterday, CDU estimated its current 2020 revenue will fall by between $20 million and $30 million compared to its budget, due to a decline in international students, less student accommodation demand and reduced investment income.

The University’s Semester 1 intake of international students was “impacted negatively in only a small way” because of travel restrictions, however the email tips the “impacts for Semester 2 will be severe”.

Federal Government advice on global travel restrictions into Australia could be maintained for several months into 2021, meaning a new intake of students from outside Australia for CDU’s Semester 2 this year was unlikely.

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