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Time To Work Together, Not Threaten Jobs

Irresponsible and unhelpful is how the National President of the Tertiary Education Union is describing moves by two universities to cut jobs due to the corona virus travel ban.

The vice-chancellors of both Auckland and Wellington’s Victoria universities have suggested the corona virus travel ban preventing some international students from coming to New Zealand must flow directly on to cuts in jobs. At the University of Auckland there is hiring freeze in place, and at Victoria University of Wellington the vice-chancellor has announced likely redundancies.

TEU National President, Michael Gilchrist, says this is premature and capacity must be retained in these institutions and staff are the most important element of that capacity.

“There are many other ways in which the impacts of the travel ban could be buffered. We agree that government, through the Tertiary Education Commission, has a vital role to play in that process and have asked for a meeting to work out a nation-wide strategy to address the impact of the travel ban.”

Staff cuts should be the last option to be considered, according to Gilchrist.

“It is ironic that once again staff feature as pawns in the power games of vice-chancellors, rather than being valued and respected for the complexity of their work and the care they bring to the staff-student relationship. Many staff are already doing a huge amount of extra work to minimise the impact of the travel ban."

The TEU is pressuring the Tertiary Education Commission to call a meeting of all the relevant parties across the tertiary sector – staff and student representatives, CEs and VCs, and officials – so that a nationally co-ordinated and coherent response can be developed instead of the current knee-jerk reaction that is being demonstrated at the moment by a couple of our universities.

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