AUT proposes to join race to the bottom.

Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union is dismayed to learn of Te Wānanga Aronui O Tamaki Makau Rau | Auckland University of Technology’s plans to cut as many as 230 jobs by year’s end – especially so, considering rationale that includes a desire to reduce personnel costs from 64% of operating expenses down to below 60% as a result of benchmarking with other universities.

Te Pou Ahurei Takirua – Ahumahi | Assistant National Secretary – Industrial, Irena Brörens says “it’s sad to see AUT now joining the race to the bottom other universities have been engaging in for many years. Our research has shown spending on staff falling, as a percentage of operating costs, across the sector and, as we have repeatedly pointed out, it’s a sign that universities are devaluing staff who should be the basis of any human service. This is not a strategy AUT should be trying to emulate. Any university should be proud to invest significantly in staff.”

The consultation document also cites a decrease in student numbers across some programmes and disciplines as a reason for the proposal.

But as Irena Brörens points out, “staff cuts are never the way to address temporary fluctuations in student numbers. We have seen time and time again that they only result in unsustainable workloads and reduced service for students.”

TEU organiser at AUT, Jill Jones, describes the proposal as “bitterly disappointing. It’s a slap in the face for our members, who have been working very hard to keep their university running through the COVID-19 pandemic, a ‘hiring freeze’ and a voluntary leaving scheme that has already left many with high workloads due to already reduced staffing not to mention a ‘travel ban’ that has made AUT a less attractive place to work than other universities.”

“We will do everything we can to oppose these unnecessary cuts and support our members through what is set to be a very difficult time.”

AUT’s most recent annual report shows it made a $12.8 million surplus last year, almost double its $6.8 million forecast.

TEU members will meet later this week to discuss next steps.