Irresponsible and unhelpful is how the National President of the TertiaryEducation Union is describing moves by two universities to cut jobs due to thecorona virus travel ban.

The vice-chancellors of both Auckland and Wellington’s Victoria universitieshave suggested the corona virus travel ban preventing some internationalstudents from coming to New Zealand must flow directly on to cuts in jobs. Atthe University of Auckland there is hiring freeze in place, and at VictoriaUniversity of Wellington the vice-chancellor has announced likely redundancies.

TEU National President, Michael Gilchrist, says this is premature and capacitymust be retained in these institutions and staff are the most important elementof that capacity.

“There are many other ways in which the impacts of the travel ban could bebuffered. We agree that government, through the Tertiary Education Commission,has a vital role to play in that process and have asked for a meeting to workout a nation-wide strategy to address the impact of the travel ban.”

Staff cuts should be the last option to be considered, according toGilchrist.

“It is ironic that once again staff feature as pawns in the power games ofvice-chancellors, rather than being valued and respected for the complexity oftheir work and the care they bring to the staff-student relationship. Manystaff are already doing a huge amount of extra work to minimise the impact ofthe travel ban."

The TEU is pressuring the Tertiary Education Commission to call a meeting ofall the relevant parties across the tertiary sector – staff and student representatives,CEs and VCs, and officials – so that a nationally co-ordinated and coherentresponse can be developed instead of the current knee-jerk reaction that isbeing demonstrated at the moment by a couple of our universities.

Media contacts
Michael Gilchrist, TEU National President, +64 27 899 4256