Learning support on borrowed time as Auckland Uni VC plans major library restructure

Posted By TEU on Mar 27, 2018 | 1 comment

Union members at the University of Auckland are disappointed by management plans published today to cut 45 full-time equivalent jobs in Libraries and Learning Services Te Tumu Herenga.

People working in these 45 FTE positions are among the more than 114 dedicated staff members who have been told by management that their current roles will be disestablished, as the impact of the restructure on a range of other university services was made clear at a staff meeting today. Management plans include proposals to close a significant number of service points across the university, reducing the number of places students can go to receive expert learning and research support.

Enzo Giordani, organiser of the Tertiary Education Union at the University of Auckland, said: “We are concerned that the proposals management has announced today will have a detrimental impact on students’ learning experience at the University of Auckland. We understand the way students access information is changing, but what’s been set out today goes beyond modernising services and actually cuts back on the places students can go to get expert support. This speaks to the broader issue of a failed government funding model that is forcing our public institutions to function like businesses, rather than on the learning, research and teaching needs of their students and staff.

“The timing of today’s announcement also doesn’t make sense in the context of the government’s vision for education. The Minister has outlined an ambitious plan to review our education system as a whole, to look at what we’re doing and to make changes that will ensure an inclusive, public education system focused on meeting the needs of learners. It’s hard to understand why the University would want to make major changes to the way students are supported in their learning before we’ve talked as a country about what we want from our education system.”

Some of the potentially impacted staff were told by management on Friday that they may no longer have a job at the university, leaving them to face a difficult weekend discussing future options with their whānau. Others were told yesterday ahead of a meeting with all staff today. Consultation on the plans is now open until 30 April. The process exposes the flawed approach universities have to involving staff in decisions about significant change. A small group of management has spent months making decisions without talking directly to the people whose livelihoods those decisions affect. Management then hands out a proposal that gives the people affected only a few weeks to respond – a short period of time which in this instance is punctuated by the Easter break. The approach does not work for students, staff or the wider community impacted by major changes such as these.

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