The University of Newcastle is defending its proposed restructure following a national petition launched against the changes.

The restructure will is estimated to cut 120 job cuts across the institution.

Vice Chancellor Alex Zelinsky says the changes are a necessary response to the university’s current financial position.

“We have a financial sustainability problem that at some point our expenses exceed our revenue so we become financially unsustainable.

“It’s a $35 million problem and we’re addressing it through the reduction of costs and that includes, unfortunately, some job cuts.”

The National Tertiary Education Union launched the petition, calling for community support to reject the proposal.

Vice Chancellor Alex Zelinsky says the loss of international students due to international border closures has had additional impact on the university’s financial position.

“We’ve used international students to balance the books,” Mr Zelinksy said.

“With COVID, international students didn’t come here. So our international student enrolments this year are down 33% compared to the previous year. So that translates to a funding gap.

“The government has put in a package I would say is adequate for teaching only. But we also need to worry about research, so we need other funds for research and we have to work with industry,” he said.

Vice Chancellor Alex Zelinsky says the restructure will allow greater resources to meet student demand.

“Students vote with their feet. They enroll in certain courses, they like certain courses more than they do others and in the end we need to match the resources that are available,” Mr Zelinksy said.

“There are certain courses that become more popular, like criminology but we don’t have the academics to teach there,” Mr Zelinksy said.

“So what we’re proposing to do is create more resources where the teaching load is and obviously diminishing where the student load doesn’t exist,” he said.