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Staff and students protest at proposed cuts

Association of University Staff

Media Release

Attn Education Reporter 22 May 2008

Staff and students protest at proposed cuts at College of Education in Wellington

Staff and students at Victoria University's College of Education protested today at proposed cuts to staff numbers and resources at the college which they say pose a serious threat to the future quality of teacher education in Wellington.

Victoria university is proposing to cut over 15 percent of staff (22 of 141 academic and advisory jobs and 7 of 41 administration staff jobs). The proposal includes the closure of the college's resource centre.

Mr Gilchrist said that the university proposes a crude shift in emphasis from teacher education to research in education without ensuring the continuing quality of teacher education. The criterion for cutting academic and advisory jobs will be the research capability of the people in those jobs, not the functional capability of the college, especially its core function of providing high quality teacher education.

"The Government must take part of the responsibility for this situation. It has markedly reduced funding levels for taught postgraduate degrees when such degrees are overwhelmingly preferred by teachers wanting to upgrade their qualifications. And it has done nothing to recognize the funding needs of Colleges of Education within universities," Mr Gilchrist said. "The resulting rush by the university to secure funds set aside for research threatens to leave teacher education in the dust.

"Both the shape and the scale of the proposed cuts need to be seriously reconsidered. The college has a long and proud history of producing creative, innovative and dedicated graduates and that needs to be maintained," Mr Gilchrist added.

About 60 students and 20 staff took part in today's protest with many staff preferring to remain anonymous for fear that their actions could have consequences for their future employment in the proposed restructure.

"The university has refused to include a union nominated observer in this process to ensure due consideration of submissions and fairness for staff. That lack of transparency is only exacerbating staff concern about this proposal," Mr Gilchrist said.


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