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Students Concerned At Victoria Staff Cuts

Media Release

Students are concerned about the potential impact of wide-ranging staff cuts following today's announcement that Victoria University is to cut $4m from its School and Department budgets over the next year.

Students' Association President Chris Hipkins said it wouldn't be possible for the University to save that amount of money without considerable cuts in the number of teaching staff employed, and that would result in lower quality education.

"While we welcome the news that the University will be cutting close to $1.5 million from its central management budget and a further $2 million will be saved by changes in depreciation policy, we are concerned about the potential impact of such a large cut in the academic programmes area," Mr. Hipkins said.

"Victoria University already has one of the worst staff:student ratios of all the universities in New Zealand and further staff cuts can only make that worse,"

"When you cut the number of staff available to teach programmes you place an increased burden on the staff who are left, reducing the amount of time available for research and decreasing staff contact time with students," Mr. Hipkins said.

The Students' Association is also very concerned about proposed cuts to the Student Services budget, which is to be reduced by $300,000 over the next two years.

"Many student services are the 'ambulance at the bottom of the cliff'. They are already working on a shoe-string budget and I'm not sure they can survive with any further cuts," Mr. Hipkins said.

"Any increase in user-pays to compensate for decreased funding will hit those who need help the hardest. Students who go to counselling, health or financial support services are those most in need and who can't afford to pay to use commercial services,"

"If the University decreases the amount of non-academic support available, more students will drop out and that will mean less income for the University. It's very short sighted really," Chris Hipkins said.

Reconfiguration of the University's Senior Management Team was a "smoke and mirrors" exercise, Mr Hipkins said. "They have effectively cut two positions from the Senior Management and replaced them by promoting other existing staff. I doubt it will save any money at all,"

Plans to relocate staff out of houses dotted around the campus so that they could be sold off is also a lost opportunity to create more student accommodation, Mr. Hipkins said.

"It seems ironic that at a time when students so desperately need more affordable, quality student accommodation close to campus, the University is selling off houses that would be ideal for that very use,"

"It's a simple case of hocking off the family silver to rectify the problems caused by chronic financial mismanagement and government under funding over a number of years," Chris Hipkins said.

In conclusion, Chris Hipkins said he was sympathetic to the position the University was in but felt the release of today's "Consultation Document" raised more questions than answers.

Chris Hipkins
Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (Inc.)
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