Victoria University's vice chancellor has invited staff to donate some of their salaries to pay for roles like tutors and residential assistants that "might otherwise not be affordable".
Professor Grant Guilford emailed all staff today updating them on measures aimed at returning the university to a financially sustainable position following the impact of Covid-19.
Border restrictions have hit the university particularly hard due to its heavy reliance on income generated from international students.
The university is facing a potential $40m loss this year, down from a forecast surplus of $12m prior to Covid-19.
In the email, Guilford outlined eight different measures as part of a collective response to the university's financial recovery.
Among them was what he called the "staff giving programme".
He said staff should consider participating in the programme if they felt their personal circumstances allowed them to do so.
Staff could make optional donations from their salary or wages to support student or staff hardship funds or other causes, Guilford said.
"This is a good way to directly support particular areas of the university (e.g. to pay for short-term roles such as tutors, teaching assistants, research assistants, residential assistants and other such roles that might otherwise not be affordable)."
The staff giving programme fund includes 10 different causes staff can donate to, including a university staff support fund.
Guilford told the Herald he has directed his own 20 per cent pay cut to this fund.
He said short-term roles, like tutors, were the most vulnerable as the university moved to cut its salary budget.
"These are younger people, they make a huge difference to the quality of our teaching and research programmes, and this is often their only source of income. So, were they not to have their contracts renewed it would have a devastating effect."
Guilford said he hoped about $500,000 would be raised from the staff giving programme.
"That would make a huge difference to maintaining the tutor pool", he said.
In the email, Guilford said he considered this collective response an opportunity for staff to make a personal contribution to securing the sustainability and autonomy of the university.
"No individual can solve the challenges resulting from the pandemic alone, yet none of the steps listed below are without personal cost.
"Taking collective responsibility for addressing the Covid challenge diminishes the burden that future generations of staff would otherwise have to carry on our behalf."
Another concern was the "relatively large" leave balances staff have accumulated, which is considered a financial liability.
This liability is currently more than $14m and is forecast to rise to more than $18.5m by the end of June 2020 if staff do not take their annual leave.
Guilford said he would appreciate if staff made an effort to reduce their annual holiday entitlement balance to no more than 10 days by the end of February 2021.
But he noted that because annual leave would continue to accrue during the year, fresh annual leave entitlement would "quickly build up again".
To mitigate this Guilford has proposed an extended Christmas closedown period from December 18 to January 11.
Other measures included a recruitment hiring freeze, voluntary reassignment, voluntary "furloughs" or blocks of unpaid leave, voluntary temporary four-day or 4.5-day work weeks, and a voluntary early leaving programme
Cost cutting measures which have already been taken include the university's Senior Leadership Team taking a 20 per cent voluntary pay cut, and hitting pause on elements of the capital expenditure programme.