The University of Waikato plans to cut services in the mechanical workshop in its School of Engineering, staffed by two trades-qualified staff.
The university is proposing to disestablish the two full-time technical staff, replacing them with a new 0.6 FTE position which is for the teaching periods only in any academic year.
To solve the problem that one compulsory engineering paper requires about 100 students to use a workshop the university is also proposing that the students go to Wintec for one day each week to use its workshop.
However TEU organiser Megan Morris says she understands Wintec’s trades workshop has had problems with timetabling and space allocation already this year without adding another 100 university students.
The workshop’s two trades staff expect to hear a final decision on their jobs from the university next week.
The university’s workshop has a much lower student-staff ratio than Wintec or comparable high school workshops; 4 to 1, compared with 10 or 15 to 1. This, the university says, makes it hard to schedule all the students into the workshop during semesters when the compulsory engineering course runs.
Morris says that nevertheless, it is difficult to understand the rationale for the proposal at a time when it is obvious that the faculty is growing and when engineering enrolments have increased most years since 2010.
She says TEU would like to see other schools joining the School of Engineering as stakeholders to the workshop and contracting its services. She says this would better serve the university’s growing number of students as well as protecting the jobs of its staff.