Charles Sturt University has pledged its commitment to Wagga, despite significant job cuts and reductions in subjects on the horizon.
The reassuring words come as the university restructures amid an $80 million loss in revenue, and a predicted $49.5 million deficit in the wake of COVID-19.
Up to 110 jobs will be lost in the first phase of redundancies and acting vice-chancellor Professor John Germov said that while the exact number of job losses in Wagga is unknown, it is expected to be "proportionately high".
"The two largest [campuses] and where the bulk of our administrative staff are located is at Wagga or Bathurst," he said. "The likelihood is that the jobs that will be lost on those campuses will be proportionate to the number that is located [there]."
"We're a university of the regions and we're proud to be anchor institutions in the communities we serve, particularly in Wagga, [and] that won't change."
In addition to the 110 potential job losses, 35 full-time equivalent positions that are currently vacant will not be filled.
While a figure has finally been given, National Tertiary Education Union president for Wagga Dr Helen Masterman-Smith said there was still "a lot of unanswered questions" about the "historic" cuts.
"[On Wednesday] it was the first time we've seen any figure put on the job losses since they were announced [in May]," Dr Masterman-Smith said.
"But this is only the first wave [of redundancies], more will come no doubt."
It is understood the first round of job losses will be felt in administration.
Academic positions will be up for discussion in future redundancy rounds.
But some of the dire circumstances predate the global pandemic, which placed further challenges on attracting fee-paying international students.
"Even before COVID we were expecting to run a $16 million deficit this year," Professor Germov said.
"So we had just begun planning to remediate the budget when COVID hit."
The Acting Vice Chancellor also stressed that the job losses were the last option after all "non-salary savings" had been exhausted.
The NTEU has managed to negotiate a "limited number" of voluntary redundancies.
Professor Germov confirmed these decisions will be made "on a case-by-case basis" based on "business need".
The NTEU will also continue to discuss the possibility of converting full-time positions into part-time jobs.
This week's announcement that 13 per cent of the university's subjects would be considered "non-viable" has also raised eyebrows at the NTEU.
Professor Germov further explained that presently, up to a third of the university's subjects run at a loss.
Dr Masterman-Smith indicated the possibility that this would mean certain degree types would be consolidated onto one campus, leaving regional students with fewer options.
"It forces students to move to that campus," Dr Masterman-Smith said.
"Does that mean the appeal of a regional university is lost if they cannot stay close to home? Why not move to the metro universities if you have to move anyway?"
But Professor Germov said many of the proposed "non-viable" units were previously slated for removal due to low uptake.
"Decisions haven't been made, but some of those subjects haven't had students in them for years," he said.
"They are basically what we call 'obsolete subjects'."
Universities typically receive higher enrolments during recessions as cohorts return to upskill. But the increase is unlikely to pull the university from its woes.
"For undergraduate enrolments, which is the bulk, there is a funding cap imposed by government," Professor Germov said.
"We're at the cap and running at a deficit, so to accept more students you will not get the government contribution, only the student contribution.
"That can be less than 50 per cent, sometimes 80 per cent less, than you'd normally get funding for. It makes taking more enrolments above the cap unviable."