By: Simon Collins

Another 45 jobs being cut at Auckland University are “just the tip of the iceberg” to come, the Tertiary Education Union says.

Union organiser Enzo Giordani says the university has proposed cutting staff in its libraries and learning services by 45 over the next few years, closing branch libraries in the music, fine arts and architecture schools and at its Tāmaki and Epsom campuses.

This follows a proposal last week to axe five academic jobs in the music school, and Giordani warned there was “a lot more coming”.

“It’s just the tip of the iceberg. A lot more cost-cutting is going on,” he said.

We are expecting to be doing this most of the year and most of next year working through these sorts of proposals.”

Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon warned last October that the university faced a deficit of $11.8 million which would have to be met partly by cutting staff numbers.

He said then that the university could not let academic staff/student ratios worsen because that would affect teaching quality and university rankings, which are crucial to attracting international students.

“That only leaves professional staff such as administrative services and student support services,” he said.

He said the tight budget could also force cuts in academic staff in fields where student numbers are declining, such as arts and education, although there could be staff increases in expanding courses such as engineering.

Giordani said the latest proposal would disestablish 114 of the 245 full-time-equivalent roles in libraries and learning services.

The proposal would also create 98.5 new roles, making a net reduction of 15.5 in the short term.

A further 30 or so roles would go when the Tāmaki and Epsom campuses close over the next few years, centralising all services in the main library in Princes St plus two remaining specialist libraries for law and medicine.

As well as librarians, he said the proposal would cut some roles in learning services which support Māori and Pacific students, students with learning disabilities and students with English as a second language.

“We understand the way students access information is changing, but what’s been set out today goes beyond modernising services and actually cuts back on the places students can go to get expert support,” he said.

He said the timing of the latest cuts didn’t make sense when Education Minister Chris Hipkins has signalled a wide-ranging review of education.

“It’s hard to understand why the university would want to make major changes to the way students are supported in their learning before we’ve talked as a country about what we want from our education system,” he said.

Consultation on the latest proposal closes on April 30.

Source: NZ Herald

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