Deakin University is proposing to cut academic staff in areas such as data science, cyber security and distributed systems and bring in more teaching resources focused on “emerging” technologies.
The proposed changes are part of a university-wide restructure, called Deakin Reimagined, that will result in a reduction of 180 to 220 positions across the institution.
Specific change proposals are currently the subject of staff consultation; a change proposal for the School of Information Technology, sighted by iTnews, shows reductions in several study domains, partially offset by a shift in the focus of IT-related study towards “emerging technologies” – including quantum computing, internet of things (IoT) and blockchain.
Under the proposal, two vacant positions in the school will not be replaced, and an additional 18 academic staff face cuts.
They include professors and senior lecturers in “computer and data science, artificial intelligence & machine learning”; four lecturers in “information and emerging technology”; professors and senior lecturers in “cyber security” and “distributed systems”; and lecturers in “software engineering” and “mathematics and optimisation”.
Crucially, the cuts would impact several “Level E” professors in these fields.
Under Deakin University’s academic levels, E is the highest tier and denotes someone that has national and/or international recognition “as an eminent authority in his or her discipline”.
Five “Level E” professors would be cut under the plan, offset by the hire of one “Level E” professor in “software engineering/telecommunications”.
The intention of the restructure is in part to shift the focus of the School of Information Technology from these domains to more emerging ones.
It unveiled plans to hire 13 new academics, mostly at lower academic levels, in areas such as robotics, blockchain, quantum computing, machine learning, IoT, and cyber security.
However, the change proposal also notes that the restructure would result in a “reduction of cost” and meet a “shift in expectations around teaching delivery, technical expertise, and innovation”.