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Managers "completely out of touch with the world"

Monday 20 March 2006

University managers "completely out of touch with the world".

The President of the Canterbury Branch of the Association of University Staff (AUS), David Small, has branded as "staggeringly misguided" the "change proposal" released by the University of Canterbury this morning calling for eight more redundancies in the Arts.

The change proposal specifies the programmes from which academic staff will be made redundant. "A cursory glance reveals that this proposal has been drawn up by people who are completely out of touch with the world around them," said Dr Small.

He pointed to two of the cuts, those in Chinese and Religious Studies.

"The whole world is looking to China as an emerging power ­ politically, militarily and economically. New Zealand politicians, business leaders and educational institutions, including the University of Canterbury, have put huge amounts of energy into developing an understanding of and building relationships with China. What kind of signal does the university think it will send by axing one of only four academics in its Chinese programme at a time when it is making a $9.2 million surplus? Has anybody calculated how much marketing money the university has wasted with such a foolish decision?"

"For the last five years, people all around the world have had their hard-won civil liberties removed as a result of a seemingly intractable conflict between people acting largely on religious motivations, and those in the West who are perceived to be their enemies. Just months ago, there was widespread incomprehension in most Western countries at why so many muslims were so upset about cartoons being published that they considered offensive. There has never been a more important time to increase understanding in New Zealand and the West about Islam. But the University of Canterbury has decided to cut Religious Studies (which already had a staff member not replaced at the end of last year) by another staff member and for that cut to be made in Islamic Studies."

"This is what happens when decisions with profound academic, political and economic implications are left in the hands of short-sighted bean-counters", he said.

Dr Small said that the situation has clearly got out of hand, and has appealed to the public to call the managers of this public university to account. He has asked people to express their concern by supporting a rally on campus this Wednesday at 1pm, organised by the student group, Save Our Staff.


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