Proposed job cuts at Waikato University prove National’s tertiary education experiment is failing

Posted By TEU on Mar 23, 2017 | 4 comments


Senior management at the University of Waikato has proposed yet another shake up of its Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, including the loss of 17 jobs.

In a proposal to staff, Acting Dean, Professor Allison Kirkman, outlined plans to restructure the Faculty.

Proposed changes mean students will no longer be able to study programmes dedicated to Women’s and Gender Studies, Labour Studies and Religious Studies. Courses in history, political science, music, linguistics, anthropology and geography also face significant staffing cuts.

Lars Brabyn, co-president of the TEU branch at the University of Waikato and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Science, said TEU members were worried about the proposals.

“Losing 17 of our colleagues will have a huge impact on teaching and we are really concerned about what it means for the long-term viability of arts and social science subjects at Waikato University,” Brabyn said.

He added: “we know this is only a proposal, but it clearly sets the direction senior management want the university to head in. We will be doing everything we can to explain the detrimental impact it will have, not only on staff but on future generations of students too.”

Explaining the rationale behind the changes at a meeting with the TEU, senior management said the university was no longer willing to cross-subsidise smaller subject departments, despite posting an overall surplus last year.

The future viability of all subjects, therefore, could come down to changing market demand, rather than the university as a whole ensuring the provision of a broad range of subjects that would give students in the region access to a variety of learning opportunities.

This sort of market-driven approach to tertiary education threatens the long-term viability of a wide range of subjects, and is exactly what Tertiary Education Minister Paul Goldsmith has proposed in a new law recently introduced to Parliament.

Sandra Grey, TEU national president, said “the proposal to cut 17 jobs appears to be based on a rationale of turning the Faculty of Arts and Social Science into a business, with each subject thought of as a separate product that must contribute to overall profitability or be shelved.

“For a university to post a surplus one year and cut 17 jobs the next, proves that the funding model introduced under National is all wrong.”

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