By Vaughan Elder
The University of Otago has announced plans to cut 182 full-time-equivalent (FTE) general staff.
Vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne revealed the plan at a meeting today at the College of Education auditorium, which started at 12.10pm and was streamed to its campuses around New Zealand.
Hayne said the cuts and changes to the way general staff operated were needed if the university was to maintain its "environment of excellence''.
"This business case outlines an exciting new way to meet challenges in a sustainable way,'' she said.
If adopted as proposed they would result in 182 FTE staff being cut - and savings for the university of $16.7 million per year.
The cuts were not as extreme as rumours 300 job would go, but Tertiary Education Union Dunedin organiser Shaun Scott said the union was shocked at the depth of the cuts, which would be massive blow for those who lose their jobs.
"It's a huge hit on the families, the communities they live in, and on Dunedin,'' Scott said.
The shake-up, as expected, included a shift towards a "shared services'' model, which meant services like IT would be run university-wide rather than each department managing its own IT staff.
In her address to staff, part of which was included in a university press release, Hayne said the changes were needed.
"If Otago is to continue to prosper as a world-class university, it must continue to innovate - including in the provision of support services.''
The new system, would not only save the university money, but also provide a better level of service.
It had been more than 20 years since the last time it had reviewed the way general staff operated and in that time a "highly devolved'' system had developed where each department came up with their own solutions.
"As many staff have acknowledged during our workshops these local solutions have led to an overly complex and potentially less efficient system.
"It is also an expensive system that sometimes thwarts our ability to achieve what we want to achieve.
She encouraged staff to provide feedback on the university's plan.
"I assure staff that we do value them, and that we will do our utmost to offer support through this time.''