The ‘death by a thousand cuts’ trajectory at NorthTec continues and TEU branch members are left wondering which programmes and staff will be next.

The cuts began in May last year with a proposal at NorthTec to cut courses and staff in English. It was launched when staff were working from home, without their usual support systems, and in stressful and difficult conditions. The proposal to cut the English courses came a mere six weeks after Te Pūkenga’s establishment on 1 April 2020. The same year, there were also cuts in Safe Trades, Painting and Hospitality.

Earlier this year, there were cuts and a loss of staff in Horticulture and Small Business in Kaikohe. Now there is a proposal to cut positions in Visual Arts at the Whangārei campus and in Business Administration in Kaitaia.

With so many cuts to jobs and programmes, staff at NorthTec are left in an increasingly precarious position. Each semester decisions are made on the minimum viable enrolment numbers required for programmes to go-ahead. This leaves staff wondering, from semester to semester, whether they will still have a job.

TEU organiser Jill Jones says that the current proposed cuts to courses and the proposed redundancies that may follow are premature, as they are based on projected, not actual enrolments. Jones adds that increased funding to vocational education through Budget 2021 needs to ensure capacity is not lost in the regions,

‘Continued cuts at NorthTec to courses, staff, and student opportunities flies in the face of the Budget’s stated objective to support the success of traditionally under-served students and VET learners. Our tertiary education institutions need to be thinking long-term instead of making short-term, knee-jerk decisions. Our staff need to know they’ll have a job tomorrow, and our students need to know that opportunities won’t be pulled-out from under them’.