Unitec cuts 50 design staff

Posted By TEU on Nov 21, 2013 | 7 comments


Tertiary Update Vol 16 No 40

The disestablishment of 50 positions in the Design and Visual Arts Department at Unitec will lead to job losses for more than half the department’s staff. Many students and community members are furious, with one student’s parent saying she will be asking for her money back.

The faculty dean and acting chief executive, Leon de Wet Fourie, announced to design staff in August that Unitec proposed to disestablish their jobs following a period of consultation.

With that consultation complete Unitec now plans to disestablish 50 positions and create 17 new ones, with the remaining staff expected to deliver the same courses to the same number of students, for at least the next three years.

The polytechnic plans to replace experienced, trained staff with part-time and itinerant providers from industry. Unitec is shifting its focus away from educational delivery towards training for industry. The new model will turn most of the remaining 17 staff into managers and make it mandatory that managerial staff “bring into the department between $20-30,000 per year from industry”. The plan will also treat student projects and internships as moneymaking propositions.

Raewyn Alexander, a parent of a design student, says the course no longer delivers what she paid for initially and she will be asking for her money back.

“It was thousands we paid for fees. We want the money spent on something worthwhile.”

One associate professor at the department, Joanne Drayton, met with the Unitec executive team last month to plead with them to save the jobs, saying the changes will have consequences for everyone, and, for some, those consequences will be very serious.

“Already there is a massive amount of stress, heartache, and an overwhelming sense of loss. We are talking about people who love their work, this department, this, place.”

The polytechnic now expects to announce its final decision on Monday next week. TEU members are stopping work on Thursday next week to meet and discuss the implications of Unitec’s plan.

In the meantime Leon de Wet Fourie has cautioned staff not to discuss the pending job losses or the compromise to programme delivery with students.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. UCOL’s Tina Smith calls for ‘an end to the underspend’
  2. Public opportunity to reject flawed asset sales
  3. Foundation studies cuts leave questions about quality

Other news

Staff, students and alumni of Theatre and Film Studies at the University of Canterbury are being called upon to present at conferences on disaster resilience, landscape architecture, architecture, social entrepreneurship and more, and to publish their work in international and popular journals across many fields. We are, to use recent UC advertising, prepared to make a difference – and attempting to do so. We truly do not understand why UC does not attempt to leverage the success of this small department and the many projects it helped found in the city – and instead actively distances itself from them – The Press (Even if you don’t read the article, check out the photo!)

“We were on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, and at the same time, I was realizing, we don’t educate people as others wished, or as I wished. We have a lousy product” – Sebastian Thrun, MOOC pioneer and founder of Udacity

Voters in Switzerland will weigh in on a novel approach to runaway executive pay this week. A referendum is set for November 24 on a law called the “1:12 Initiative” which would impose a flexible cap on top employee compensation at Swiss companies. If approved, the highest-paid employee of any given Swiss firm could not earn more in a month than its lowest-paid employee makes in a year – Think Progress. (Try the calculation at your workplace and let us know how you measure up.)

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Thanks to Tai Ha Photography for the photo http://www.flickr.com/photos/62138788@N06/6045092066

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