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Victoria to address financial problems

Victoria University is to look at options for addressing its financial problems.

A special university Council meeting last night approved a consultative process to look at ways of addressing the university’s deficit.

Acting Vice-Chancellor Roy Sharp met with staff and student representatives today to update them on the university’s financial situation and outline the process for addressing the problem.

“Our financial situation is worse than anticipated,” Professor Sharp said. “By the end of this year we will be an estimated $11.6 million in deficit. We must act now to ensure Victoria remains a vibrant and stimulating place for people to study, and retains its international academic reputation.

Professor Sharp said the problem had been created by a combination of falling enrolments, increasing costs, decreases in government funding and increased competition for research funding.

“Maintaining the status quo is not an option,” said Professor Sharp. “Our financial situation is just not viable. While no decisions have yet been made, it appears that fundamental changes to the way we operate are required.”

By 4 July 2000, all staff will have had the opportunity to make submissions on the proposed timetable and process of consultation

Project teams of senior university academics and managers will then put together options for addressing the deficit. Once the project teams have come up with their preferred options the university community will have further opportunities to provide feedback.

“The process we have set up ensures strong staff involvement. Once the project teams have come up with their preferred options the entire university community will be consulted and asked for their input,” said Professor Sharp.

Professor Sharp said he was determined to be up-front about the ramifications of the deficit. “While no decisions have yet been made, job losses, the closure of departments, changes to support services, ways to increase our income, retaining the flexibility to evolve into the future – these are all options that the project teams will have to investigate.”

“We are putting in place a transparent and open process to address the problem. The bottom line is that the process must deliver a strong university that continues to have academic credibility and integrity.”

Professor Sharp said final decisions on what was to be done would need to be made by the university Council by mid October 2000.

Victoria University Wellington

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