Auckland University is the latest in a string of tertiary institutions announcing their intentions to reduce staff numbers in response to falling student numbers. The university has proposed to make about 13 positions redundant from the English, Art History and European Languages departments following a 4.5% student decline in the arts faculty over the last two years.
Head of Department for the Faculty of Arts at Auckland University, Professor Peter Simpson, failed to return ASPA’s calls. ASPA understands that all but one of the department’s 22 staff must reapply for their jobs by next month.
Previously, Massey University, Lincoln University and the University of Canterbury have expressed their intention to lower staffing levels. Massey is said to be considering retirement packages or non-renewal of certain fixed term contracts, whereas Lincoln is looking to drop up to 10 staff from underperforming programmes. The University of Canterbury has been in discussion over staff cuts for much of this year. Last year, Waikato University used a 5% decline in student numbers to lay off almost 30 staff.
Association of University Staff (AUS) general secretary Helen Kelly told the Sunday Star Times that the lay-offs were due to “incompetent managers” at universities nationwide. “They show a lack of understanding about what makes a university. It is not just bums on seats but also about collaboration and investment,” she says.