The University of Otago is proposing to cut 13 full-time equivalent jobs from its School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences, management confirmed this week.
Almost one third of academic full-time equivalent positions are expected to be cut, reducing the number of full-time equivalent positions from 25.3 to 17.8.
In addition, 2.5 full-time equivalent technical staff will lose their jobs and three general staff positions will be disestablished by the end of the year after a voluntary severance process.
Changes to the curriculum have also been proposed, including moving from a four- to three-year undergraduate programme and reducing the number of papers from 65 to 33.
The pro-vice chancellor of sciences, Professor Richard Barker, said the cuts were necessary as “dramatic changes in enrolment patterns have threatened the school’s future prospects.”
Faced with competition from other providers, the school says it has run losses in the past four years, during which time student numbers had dropped by 40 per cent.
The University of Otago was recently named the seventh best in the world for studying sport and sport-related disciplines.
A consultation on the proposals ended on Friday and it was anticipated a final decision would be made in July.
Kris Smith, organiser at the TEU branch at the University of Otago, said staff were shocked by the planned cuts.
“It was pretty devastating for them – the magnitude of the cuts and also the indications of where the cuts might be focused,” Smith told the Otago Daily Times.
Smith also pointed out that the job cuts were proposed even before a decision had been made about what the final curriculum would look like. A draft curriculum still has not been confirmed and was drafted without any input from the staff.
“The curriculum should have been confirmed after wide consultation, including detailed conversations with those expert in teaching in this area. That consultation should have taken place before any proposal was made about future staffing in the school,” Smith said.