Pressure is mounting to save three jobs at the University of Waikato’s Conservatorium of Music following a protest by staff, students and members of the local community.
More than two hundred protesters came together on Tuesday morning to tell the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Neil Quigley that cutting jobs risked damaging Hamilton’s reputation as the home of a much loved, thriving and community-focused performing arts scene.
Quigley was called upon to withdraw the plan to cut three out of the eight full-time staff members and lecturers at the Conservatorium, and to commit to working with the community to develop a plan that guarantees future generations the world class music and performance education Waikato is renowned for.
The protesters gathered outside a meeting of the University Council, before Labour Party candidate for Hamilton East, Jamie Strange, presented to the council, including chancellor and former prime minister, Jim Bolger, on behalf of the Conservatorium.
Kirsty Bromley, an international performer who recently decided not to enrol at University of Waikato because of the planned cuts, said: “As an international performer looking to further my career and studies in music, I’d heard wonderful things about the Waikato University. However, when looking to enrol, I chose to apply elsewhere due to the uncertainty of the staff cuts.”
Megan Morris, organiser of the TEU branch at the University of Waikato, added: “The Conservatorium of Music was ranked the number one music school in New Zealand from 2006 to 2015, and is now ranked second. This exceptional performance is due, in no small part, to the staff that now face losing their jobs.”
Proposed job cuts at the Conservatorium are part of a wider plan by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Acting Dean, Professor Allison Kirkman, to cut 17 full-time equivalent jobs from the faculty.
As well as cuts to the music programme, Kirkman’s plans would mean future students will no longer be able to study programmes dedicated to Women’s and Gender Studies, Labour Studies and Religious studies.
Courses including history, political science, linguistics, and geography also face significant staffing cuts.