Massey’s preliminary decision on cuts described as ‘devastating’ for sciences

Stuff reported today that Massey University has released a preliminary decision about a college of sciences restructure.

Massey, which is facing a $53 million deficit for the year, last month put out a proposal for change for the college where 100 jobs could go, and major changes would be made to courses, including cutting engineering and merging the school of natural sciences with the school of food and advanced technology.

In the preliminary decision released yesterday, the number of jobs cut had decreased from 107 full-time equivalent staff members to 67, but science courses at the Albany campus would still go.

An alternative proposal that didn’t cut jobs or courses was presented to Massey last week, but it wasn’t taken up.

Stuff says:

In the decision, pro vice-chancellor of the college of sciences Ray Geor said he had been unable to find a path that did not lead to changes in staffing levels.

Tertiary Education Union organiser Ben Schmidt said members were disappointed and angry about the decision.

“These are devastating cuts for science teaching, research and development in New Zealand.

“While there have been some small steps in the right direction to save a few jobs in the preliminary decision, make no mistake, this is still a devastating proposal to slash science jobs that would deeply undermine the capacity and provision of science, technology, engineering, teaching and research in New Zealand.”

Tertiary Education Union organiser Ben Schmidt wants the university to walk back the proposal for change.

He wanted Geor and vice-chancellor Jan Thomas to instead work to preserve the importance of these subjects.

Schmidt believed members had demonstrated another way to do things without cutting jobs through the alternative proposal.

In a statement to Stuff, Geor said a second round of consultation had now started, and the timeline had been extended so feedback, including the alternative proposal, could be fully considered.

“Like others in the tertiary sector, the university has recently been signalling difficult financial conditions and the need to reduce costs and generate income to ensure its financial sustainability.

“The need to reduce costs and generate income to ensure financial sustainability remains urgent for this year and for the near term.”

He said the preliminary decision contained some aspects of the original proposal to discontinue some sciences courses and consolidate others on the Manawatū campus.

The preliminary decision would “work to shape the academic profile of the college of sciences in a manner that supports world-class teaching and research in a breadth of subjects and disciplines, whilst also addressing challenging financial circumstances”.

A final decision will be made next month and details about any changes would be provided to staff and students then.

Source: Stuff

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog