CHARLES Sturt University's acting vice-chancellor Professor John Germov says he understands that people will have strong views on the university as it deals with a deficit and the COVID-19 shake-up in the sector. CSU this week provided an update on its Sustainable Futures program, which aims to reduce the university's deficit to approximately $22 million in the 2020 financial year and put CSU on the path to a balanced budget by the end of the 2021 financial year. The program includes staff cuts. CSU has faced criticism from state Member for Bathurst Paul Toole and federal Member for Calare Andrew Gee in recent months about its financial position and financial transparency, among other things. "We've been in touch with the local members," Professor Germov said of Mr Toole and Mr Gee. "We're a public institution and are rightly open to public scrutiny and, given how much we are anchor institutions in our communities, it's fair enough that people have strong views about how the university is performing and what they believe it should be doing. "And, of course, no one wants to see a reduction in staffing, no one wants to have to undertake these sort of remediation steps, but you're seeing CSU is not in a bubble here; it's the sector writ large that has had to deal with this. IN OTHER NEWS: "I'm really proud that our senior executive team, our council [the Charles Sturt University Council] and our staff have worked really well together under really challenging circumstances to turn things around and set us on a course where we are very confident now that we will be at break even or better by the end of 2021." Professor Germov said the early signs were good for enrolments at CSU next year, with preferences up around 25 to 30 per cent. "That won't necessarily translate directly to enrolments, because people put multiple preferences in for multiple courses and locations and it will depend on the competition in the sector for students where students ultimately end," he said. "But we are certainly expecting an increase across our campus network and a significant increase on previous years. "It's a bit hard to put a firm number on that and where it will fall between campuses, but we should know more in about six to eight weeks." CSU said this week that an independent financial review by KPMG had broadly confirmed the university's view of its financial position.