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Programmes under threat at University of Auckland

Association of University Staff

6 October 2006

Prestige programmes under threat at University of Auckland

Senior members of the Association of University Staff (AUS) at the University of Auckland are outraged that the Dean of Arts and the Vice-Chancellor have proposed savage staffing cuts that could destroy prestigious academic programmes in the Faculty of Arts. Rather than allow adequate time for staff to develop less destructive alternatives, the Vice-Chancellor is determined to proceed with haste on selecting staff for redundancy.

At a Faculty meeting on Wednesday, the Dean of Arts refused to consider an extension of time for consultation, saying this was a staffing matter that fell outside the body's jurisdiction. In a letter addressed to seventeen members of Senate, the Vice-Chancellor said that he would not extend the period of consultation on the Arts restructuring proposal because the delay would turn out to be too costly.

AUS President, Associate Professor Peter Wills, said the fact is that in some departments the redundancies will have an enormous effect on the teaching programmes. "They will have a significant effect even in departments which may lose only one member of staff," he said. "The intention to abolish the Russian programme follows the termination of Indonesian language a few years ago, ignoring indications from government that more extensive language education should be recognised as a vital cornerstone in New Zealand's economic development."

Associate Professor Wills said that the proposed redundancies in the Arts Faculty showed that the University had failed to set a budget that bore any relation to reality, and had then used bums-on-seats micro-accounting to decide on academic staffing levels and the constitution of its courses.

"They encourage inflated projections of the likely student market and then want to sack staff when their plans come adrift, but large-scale non-academic expenditure proceeds regardless. Some staff who may lose their jobs have given over forty years of service to students and their disciplines, and are world renowned scholars who have contributed significantly to creating this university's status and international rankings. Others with lower profiles are equally dedicated to an institution that is prepared to discard them with apparent impunity. Ironically they may take the advertising slogan 'The Number One University in New Zealand' with them," said Associate Professor Wills.

Associate Professor Wills said that it was a sad day when the Association of University Staff had to fight against senior personnel in order to maintain proper academic standards and processes of governance.


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