Hau Taki Haere | Tertiary Update Vol 25, No 5
Staff at Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato | University of Waikato are reeling from a new proposal to cut jobs within the School of Science after having been told by their employer in mid-March that their jobs were generally safe due to an increase in enrolments.
The proposed changes to the School of Science at the University of Waikato would disestablish a net 10 positions, on top of 8 positions that were lost as a result of enhanced retirements and voluntary redundancies at the end of 2020. The proposed cuts come as staff at our universities continue to face high workloads and student enrolments are rising.
The combined loss of staff equates to a near twenty percent reduction in staff FTE across the School. Many of these staff are senior academics and senior experienced technicians who the School of Science is looking to replace with junior academics. According to TEU [Tertiary Education Union] organiser Shane Vugler, this loss of intellectual capacity will have a dramatic impact on the School and its teaching and research capabilities moving forward,
‘This will have serious consequences on both the university’s current students, its teaching and research programs, and its ability to attract students and research contracts into the future. It should also be noted that considering the size of the proposed disinvestment in the staff of the School and because of the uncertainty of how teaching and research responsibilities will be reallocated, it is likely that many staff not directly affected by the current proposal will be reconsidering their future at the University of Waikato’. Vugler continued,
‘The reality is that downsizing the staff and capacity of the School will have a significant impact. This will have a negative flow-on effect across the whole of the University, because the University has taken a short sighted and self-interested focus on how external research funding should be allocated’.
TEU has concerns that there has been no engagement with TEU and the majority of staff prior to the current release of the change proposal of the School of Science on the 12th of February 2021. The change proposal, if implemented will have significant impacts on staff, students and the future teaching and research capacity of the School of Science, so not engaging with all parties is a real opportunity lost.