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University of Sydney print centre threatened with closure

Wednesday, 23 July 2008
By Print 21 Online Article

University of Sydney inplant printing faces the chop as management looks for savings by outsourcing production and changing it into a print manager.

The University floated a proposal in May to change the role of its University Publishing Service (UPS) away from being a print provider to act as the university’s print broker for any print-related spend.

Clive Gilmore, acting general manager of University Publishing Services said that there had been talk of changes for some time, though he was not able to disclose details of the proposed changes or when they might take place. "There is a possible restructure being looked into but no decisions have been made at the moment," he said.

University management claim that the UPS print centre is inefficient and that the technology, particularly the offset press equipment, is obsolete and beyond repair. It claims that some stakeholders within the university bypass UPS in favour of external providers – up to $5m per annum – because the unit is not cost competitive and cannot service the university’s needs. It also maintains that UPS has not met its financial performance requirements, even though it produced a profit. Staff representatives dispute the reasons given and accuse the university of not adequately responding to requests for financial information.

"The costs of keeping the university’s printing in house are not that much at all," one source said. A spokesperson from the Community and Public Sector Union was unable to comment when approached by Print 21, but agreed that both the union and employees at UPS are angered by the news, which they fear could result in the loss of jobs.

Management from the University of Sydney were unavailable for comment. Already one deadline for a decision on the future of the facility has passed as the furore over the fate of the inplant grows.

There was a muted response to the threat of closure from the relevant industry association, NIPPA (Network of In-house Print Professionals Australasia). A spokesman commented under conditions of anonymity –  In order for this model [outsourcing] to meet the triple bottom line of being financially, socially and environmentally successful it will need to ensure each and every contractor behaves as if they were a part of the organisation itself. In that case you may as well keep the production services in-house where you can genuinely manage the process, set accountable service levels and, recent history tells us, at considerably less cost.

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