The Otago Daily Times reports that the Foundation Studies Ltd company owned by the University of Otago is preparing for a second round of redundancies.
The company, which offers English language and general tuition to international and domestic students, cut 3.6 positions in August. Now it is reviewing management and support positions.
The Otago Daily Times has been told at least three further positions will go, but the company’s board chairperson, Ian Simpson, said he could not confirm that. The review would be completed before the end of the year, he said.
TEU national president Dr Tom Ryan said these cuts undermine one of goals of the government’s Tertiary Education Strategy, in that the TES aims to get more young people, Māori, and Pasifika people into tertiary education.
“It really is a catch-22 situation. Foundations studies course like this are integral to the success of government’s own tertiary strategy, and yet staff are being made redundant because of the government’s cap on student numbers.”
Foundation Studies at Otago University has had its domestic student places cut by 44 percent next year. Because most of the courses at Foundation Studies are less than a full year, and it takes several students to make up one student place, the reduction will affect hundreds of students.
Many of the subsidised places have been filled by students who had not performed well enough at school to obtain university entrance and have previously needed a one-semester intensive boost to make the grade. Asked what would happen to those students, Mr Simpson said they would “have to make sure they passed UE at school” or wait until they were 20 and apply for a university place as an adult student.
Dr Ryan said that government decisions were undermining the government’s own strategic goals.
“The students that the government says it most wants tertiary institutions to take in are also the ones that it attaches the least funding value to. The situation simply doesn’t make sense.”