Massey University staff say they're being treated unfairly in a proposal to outsource some of its work with international students, with dozens of jobs on the line.
The university has signalled its intention to partner with Kaplan International NZ Ltd to deliver pre-degree teaching for international students, but says no deal has been made.
While a consultation process is under way with affected staff, some academics claim the proposal is a "done deal" and that Massey doesn't intent to change it.
Massey staff say the move would mean the axing of dozens of jobs across the university's Palmerston North, Wellington and Auckland campuses.
It could result in the loss of more than half of staff at Massey's Centre for Professional and Continuing Education (PaCE) and around 70 per cent of dedicated teaching staff.
The centre provides comprehensive teaching programmes that allow local and overseas students to meet entry qualifications for both undergraduate and post-graduate courses.
In a media statement, affected staff said they were "shocked" at the proposed speed of the transition - particularly compared to the time period in place with Massey's proposed shake-up at its College of Sciences, a separate process that could see 100 scientists go.
"There are so many things wrong with this proposal, and we really feel we are being treated unfairly," one affected staffer said.
"Our science colleagues have opportunities for voluntary redundancies, and have two whole years to transition.
"We have basically been given three months, in the throes of a global pandemic, with no choices, and no options. Some of us have worked here for decades. All we are asking for is to be fairly treated, in the same way as others that work for the university."
Some of the staff who made submissions to the administration, have not seen an acknowledgment or response to their concerns.
"I have seen nothing in the latest document from the university that recognises or addresses any of the concerns I raised, although they claim to have taken them into consideration," one said.
"If you ask me, there was never any intention to listen to our suggestions and ideas, they were simply going through the motions."
Staff were questioning why, in the middle of a Covid-19 driven economic crisis, a taxpayer-funded New Zealand institution and major employer was outsourcing well-paid local jobs to an overseas company.
"We have no problem with outside companies helping to recruit new students from overseas, in fact it's welcome, but we strongly feel that once signed up, their education should stay with Massey," one staffer said.
"We have passionate, experienced staff, who care about our city, our students and our future. It would be a tragedy if all that was wasted. Once these jobs are gone, so are those people and we will never get them back."
A Massey spokesperson said the consultation process was still under way, following the release of a proposal for change.
"Massey's Centre for Professional and Continuing Education will continue to operate and will be enabled through this partnership to focus primarily on enhancing opportunities and pathways for domestic students and learners."
Massey also contended claims that tax dollars were being transferred to Kaplan under the deal, given the change only concerned international students.
"Slightly fewer than 50 per cent of PaCE staff are currently proposed to be affected, including management roles," it said.
"Should the proposal proceed, Kaplan International NZ Ltd has confirmed Massey staff will have the first option of applying for teaching positions with it, although terms and conditions of employment may differ from the university roles."
Massey meanwhile said it hadn't yet prepared a formal proposal for the College of Sciences, but it would be based on feedback to its latest discussion document.
"Proposed changes were narrower in scope for the Kaplan partnership, so consultation began based around the details contained in the Proposal for Change document."