The Victoria University of Wellington has confirmed 229 jobs are on the chopping block, as well as a proposal to discontinue seven courses.
The programmes that would be discontinued are Italian, German, Greek, Latin, postgraduate design technology, secondary school teaching, and postgraduate geographical information systems.
Eight programmes would see no change while others like theatre, classical performance, and jazz performance would be integrated with other programmes.
Several study options would also be discontinued, meaning there will be no new enrolments next year, including the Geophysics undergraduate programme, Workplace Health and Safety, and graduate diplomas in Secondary School and Early Childhood teaching.
The university said current students can complete their programmes regardless of any changes.
Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Nick Smith said it was a hugely challenging task and acknowledged it was a “blow to our community”.
About 300 people gathered on the university’s Hunter Lawn at its Kelburn campus to protest the job cuts today.
Their placards said “Education is a public good”, “Save our staff”, and “Stop the cuts”.
Staff have been anxiously waiting to find out who the cuts would affect after they were foreshadowed a month ago as a way of dealing with the university’s $33 million deficit.
Tertiary Education Union Te Hautū Kahurangi national president Julie Douglas said it was shortsighted to cut staff and programmes at a time when the economy was in desperate need of trained, educated workers.
“This is so much more than just about jobs today - we are talking about a sector in crisis and on the line is the future of tertiary education being able to deliver what we need as a society into the future, the workforce we need in the future and the needs of a decent society to have educated citizens,“ Douglas said.
“Future generations of young Kiwis depend on a robust university sector to be there for them to be able to follow their passions.”
The union has called on the Government to intervene.
Douglas said the Government didn’t need to commit money right away to help. Debt ceilings for universities could be raised to provide a short-term solution, she said.
“That would then allow the breathing space to come up with something more sustainable. It’s time to get off the fence. To not act now is to not support tertiary education.”
The university has supported an open letter to the Government from the union and students’ association to “save our universities”.
Smith said the proposed changes and staff cuts will bring the university close to addressing its $33m deficit.
“This is a hugely challenging task and I am grateful for the hard work and professionalism our staff have demonstrated during this process,” he said.
“I know this is a blow to our community, but I also want to acknowledge our areas of strength and distinctiveness, and our historical legacy as a university.”
Smith said he remained confident they could work through the situation and position the university for future success.
The cuts are being outlined to staff today and tomorrow. A full consultation document will be available to staff on Monday.
A final decision will be announced on August 14.
Georgina Campbell is a Wellington-based reporter who has a particular interest in local government, transport, and seismic issues. She joined the Herald in 2019 after working as a broadcast journalist.