With staff across the tertiary education sector experiencing heightened stress levels and increased workloads as a result of Covid-19, staff at Te Pūkenga Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) are now facing  proposed job losses.

Twelve staff in NMIT’s international student department have been informed the positions they currently hold are likely to be made redundant due to falling international student numbers, with the institute’s mechanical engineering department and learner services department also facing proposed staff reductions.

The announcement comes as TEU members in the affected departments are reporting increased stress and workloads due to the need to support  students during an unprecedented period of disruption. Staff at NMIT are wondering how these departments will run following the proposed cuts.

According to TEU organiser Daniel Benson-Guiu the concerns of TEU members at NMIT turned to anger as staff learned of the institute’s massive cash reserves of over $27 million, accumulated over years of surpluses, even as NMIT claim a projected deficit of $2.5 million for 2021.

“Staff across the sector have worked extremely hard this year, going above and beyond to ensure students are supported, and their studies are disrupted as little as possible. The funds NMIT has accumulated during better years need to go into supporting and retaining staff, and student services”.

For Benson-Guiu, the proposed cuts go against clear objectives set by both Te Pūkenga and the Government, and an extension to the consultation period will ensure all voices and outcomes are considered,

“The last thing Te Pūkenga needs right now is a brain-drain from our polytechnics because workloads have become unmanageable, leaving Te Pūkenga ill-equipped to handle the projected increase in student numbers. Yet at NMIT we are seeing cuts in mechanical engineering as the Government is offering free vocational training and cuts to learning services at time when more students will need more support”.

Benson-Guiu is concerned that the proposals aim to replace permanent staff with fixed-term appointments, take away specialist academic roles, and reduce hours proportionately.

“A fixed term appointment can only be made if there is a genuine reason. The TEU does not see ‘flexibility’ as a genuine reason to replace long-term and committed staff”.

The TEU is committed to secure work and better futures for our members and will be submitting against these cuts.