AUSTIN -- The University of Texas at Austin plans to drastically downsize its workforce, according to a draft of a plan obtained by the Texas State Employees Union that was confirmed by the university Friday afternoon.
According to a press release issued by the Texas State Employees Union, which represents about 20 percent of the university's staff, the downsize would come as part of a larger plan called "Smarter Systems for a Greater UT." That plan is "a blueprint for privatizing many campus services at UT, including housing and food services, parking, custodial services, maintenance and grounds keeping as well as centralizing and consolidating many administrative functions at the University. The plan calls for running UT more like a business and less like an affordable, public institution of higher learning."
The committee claims the plan would save the university $490 million over 10 years.
The draft of the plan obtained by the Union indicates the university administration plans to eliminate 500 positions in the areas of information technology, finance, and human resources, which altogether have about 2,500 full time positions.
According to the Union, "the plan also states that in order to 'streamline' the administrative functions at the University, they will need to spend between $160-$180 million. The plan is not clear on where this money would go, but what is clear is that the University plans to spend millions of taxpayer dollars in order to eliminate hundreds of university jobs."
The university says it must spend money to make money, and cutting several hundred jobs is part of their plan to consolidate and be more efficient.
UT’s CFO Kevin Hegarty says the consolidating plan titled “UT Shared Services Plan” dated October 2013, is the latest version of the draft plan.
As for the money to be spent, Hegarty says the university needs to upgrade their current web-based system. He tells KVUE News the upgrade is a large chunk of the shared costs, but estimates claim the upgrade will save UT around $30 million annually after it is implemented.
According to Hegarty this is the first step toward shared services which are already an integrated part of operations at Yale and several other universities.
Hegarty says efforts to begin shared services could begin as early as spring of 2014.