University staff launch Save Waikato’s ASS campaign

Posted By TEU on Apr 6, 2017 | 5 comments

Staff and students at the University of Waikato have come together to campaign to save the arts and social sciences, as bosses press ahead with plans to cut 17 jobs.

Save Waikato’s ASS launched this week by staff responds to a proposed shake up of the university’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) that jeopardises the study options available to current and future students in the Waikato region.

History, political science, linguistics, music, geography and a wide range of other courses face an uncertain future if the plans to cut back FASS go ahead.

Programmes dedicated to Women’s and Gender Studies, Labour Studies and Religious Studies will be cut entirely.

Staff are struggling to make sense of proposals that come less than 12 months after the university posted a $13.4 million surplus, an increase of $5.2 million on the previous year.

Megan Morris, organiser for the TEU branch at the University of Waikato said staff were extremely worried about what the job cuts would mean for them and their students.

“We cannot see how the Vice-Chancellor can guarantee the long-term viability of arts and social science subjects at Waikato University if these proposals go ahead. We now face a future where the Vice-Chancellor may have to say to future generations of students that coming to Waikato is no longer an option if they want to study music, history, political science, or any of the other quality programmes the faculty teaches.”

The proposed cuts are part of a wider attack on the arts, humanities, and social sciences in tertiary education. These subjects have been put under huge pressure over the last decade, both from funding cuts and the expansion of the education marketplace.

Save Waikato’s ASS is asking people to back their campaign by writing to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Neil Quigley.

A template letter is available asking Quigley to withdraw his proposals and talk with the community about a way forward that guarantees future generations the world class arts and social science education Waikato deserves and expects.

Staff will hold a rally to oppose the cuts at midday on 11 April on the campus Village Green.Music students at the university have also been campaigning to stop the planned job cuts that threaten the future of the university’s Conservatorium of Music.

Students are hosting a Concert for our Conservatorium at 7.30pm tonight in the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts to celebrate the contribution staff, who are now at risk of losing their jobs, make to their studies.

Rachel Twyman, one of the students leading the campaign, told Stuff “we are known so personally by our lecturers. They’re highly concerned about making us into good musicians and good people as well. I feel that’s unique to Waikato. The university is not seeing that we can’t run a department with five staff members. We’ve got eight full-time staff members that are highly specialised in what they do. Obviously, a cello lecturer cannot teach me how to play a violin.”

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