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Cutting the frontline harms students

Restructuring at the University of Waikato will affect more than the 50 people whose jobs are under a cloud says the Tertiary Education Union.

“This shake up in the end will impact on the quality of the experience of students and the engagement with the community and employers” says TEU organiser Shane Vugler.

University management are currently consulting on restructuring of administration and support services following the establishment of five new divisions in 2018.

Vugler says staff were assured that no jobs were going in the shakeup. “Then two months into the new teaching year we are told that 50 administration and support staff are facing a very uncertain futures.”

“The Vice Chancellor put in five highly paid pro-vice chancellors during last year’s shake up and now he’s turned around to save money by cutting those working with students and staff on the frontline.”

TEU national industrial officer, Irena Brorens, says “the moves to cut support and administrative staff will cost long-term. We’ve had a sneak preview of the latest research on wellbeing in the tertiary education sector and it shows that the continuous under investment in staff is now harming student learning and well-being.”

Brorens says “A survey of nearly 3,000 staff a third reported that support services had got worse over the last three years in the tertiary education sector. This is because our institutional leaders, like the Vice Chancellor at Waikato, are underinvesting in staffing.”

“Since Neil Quigley arrived at Waikato four years ago the amount of money which goes into staff costs has dropped from 59% of expenditure to 54%. If you keep cutting and cutting the staff at your institution, eventually the effect will be felt by those relying on excellent support and administrative services – the students.”

Vugler hopes that during the next three weeks there will be genuine consultation and they show that they are listening to staff and students.

Last year, staff and students in Maori studies successfully opposed their department being subsumed into new divisions set up to ‘streamline’ reporting to the Vice Chancellor.

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