Management at the University of Otago has announced plans to shut down New Zealand’s only comprehensive bachelors to doctorate degree qualification in clothing and textiles science.
The decision would severely undermine a valuable sector that draws world class talent to Otago, the Tertiary Education Union said.
Learning and research opportunities at the Centre of Materials Science and Technology attract students from all over New Zealand and other parts of the world. Graduates of the Centre are employed in a wide range of jobs, with many snapped up by employers for jobs before they have even completed their studies, such is the Centre’s reputation.
Postgraduate enrolments have also increased steadily over the last five years in parallel with ongoing curriculum developments.
“The loss of these internationally recognised learning opportunities would be a disaster. No longer would future generations with an interest in the science and cultural impact of fibres, textiles and clothing look to the University of Otago as the path towards a fulfilling career in a wide range of sectors. New Zealand would also lose research capabilities in these hugely important fields,” Kris Smith, an organiser of the TEU’s branch at the University of Otago, said.
Management is allowing only two weeks for staff, industry and the local community to provide feedback on the Centre’s closure.
The TEU said it is unrealistic to expect all affected stakeholders to have their say in this short timeframe, including all those businesses and public sector organisations that may no longer be able to employ New Zealand educated graduates.
“Management cannot possibly expect to speak to all affected stakeholders in the two weeks it is allowing for feedback. They would be wise to extend the consultation period to allow enough time for staff and industry to get around the table to work out a plan for the Centre’s future. Perhaps then management will hear just how important these qualifications are to New Zealand,” Smith said.