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We need to talk about Stuart McCutcheon

We need to talk about Stuart McCutcheon

Silencing staff, cutting the Faculty of Education and Social Work in the midst of a nationwide teacher shortage, and refusing to listen to serious concerns about the direction he is taking the University of Auckland. It is time we talked about Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon and his leadership, the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) said today.

Concern about the direction of the institution intensified this week when the Vice-Chancellor announced he would cut 22.4 full-time equivalent jobs from the Faculty of Education and Social Work, and 5.5 FTE from Cultures Languages and Linguistics. Consultation on the proposals discouraged respondents from discussing anything other than why their area of work or job should not be cut. McCutcheon did not want staff to question the premises on which his cuts were proposed - even though staff had been told everything was open for feedback. Equally concerning is his decision not to consider the impact his proposals could have on government policy, even though New Zealand faces a teacher shortage the likes of which we have not seen before.

Worryingly, McCutcheon has also silenced debate through the inclusion of a confidentiality clause in staffing reviews. Under the clause, staff are not permitted to share or talk about what he is proposing unless they are directly affected. The TEU has written to McCutcheon stating that his actions are contrary to good employment practice and sound decision-making. The TEU has also seen communications to students advising them that a complaint has been made about their participation in a legitimate protest about the recent Libraries and Learning Services review. The email says University management is no longer prepared to meet with students about the review.

Sandra Grey, national president of the TEU, said: “It’s time we had a serious conversation about what is happening at the University of Auckland and the direction the institution is being taken in by Stuart McCutcheon. It can appear at times that the Vice-Chancellor his imposing his will on the institution, and forcing staff into line, rather than welcoming an open and honest debate about the future of the University. That he doesn’t even want to discuss the broader implications of his decisions on Government policy is worrying.

"Our commitment as a union is to the staff of the University of Auckland. We will continue fighting on their behalf to make sure they have a strong voice in every decision Stuart McCutcheon is making, particularly ones like cutting teacher training staff, which risk holding us back as a country.”

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