Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union warns already overworked staff cannot withstand more cuts following Otago University’s call for staff to volunteer for redundancy.

Acting Vice Chancellor Helen Nicholson announced that the University is seeking 60-80 staff who are willing to give up their jobs by indicating their interest over the next six weeks.

TEU organiser Daniel Benson-Guiu says the move is disappointing.

‘At a time when, overall, student numbers are on the rise, an exodus of 60-80 staff would have a negative impact on the University. It would not only be loss of institutional knowledge and long serving staff who students are most likely to be drawn to Otago to study under, but it also risks leaving crippling workloads for those who stay.’

These fears are echoed by TEU Branch President Craig Marshall who says ‘Otago University is still coping with consequences of the recent Shared Services Review. Morale is low and workloads are high, and further loss of senior staff may compromise research and teaching capacity.’

Marshall adds ‘in her email to staff, the Acting Vice Chancellor says the cuts are in part due to a capital development plan deemed necessary to ‘providing a safe and appropriate working environment for staff and students now and in the future’ but equally safe and appropriate workloads are a must for staff and students. The underlying problem is decades of neglect and the failure to sustainably fund universities.’

And as Daniel Benson-Guiu also points out, similar voluntary redundancy schemes have been a failure at other institutions around Aotearoa. ‘In other universities we have seen large amounts of money paid out to long serving staff, leaving crippled departments in their wake. We call on the government to take notice of the continued erosion of our sector and act to fund tertiary education more appropriately.’