Staff at the Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) have been told to brace for job cuts as the University strives to cut costs even further.
An email to staff from vice-chancellor Nic Smith, seen by the Herald, said VUW is forecasting a deficit of $33 million this year and as a result, costs must be cut.
“Staff have already done a significant amount to reduce spending, taking into account the need to ensure the best possible experience for our students - unfortunately, we need to do more,” Smith said.
Smith said the cost-cutting measures being discussed will result in redundancies among professional and academic staff, and there will also likely be programme closures.
“This is a difficult time for everyone in our community - returning to financial sustainability is a huge task.”
The vice-chancellor told a staff forum this morning that a consultation process will soon begin which estimates 100 academic jobs and up to 150 professional staff could be cut.
Smith said the university is still working through options, and the proposal will be ready for consultation in late June.
In a statement to NZME he said there are no easy options for VUW but his confidence in the university is strong.
“We have outstanding people and significant opportunities in front of us. All of us are determined that this university will adapt and thrive in the future.”
Victoria University Students Association president Jessica Ye told NZME she understands 59 programmes are under review, the majority of which are in the arts and humanities. Ye said the cuts are “really disheartening”.
“[VUW] compared to other universities, has such a strong humanities and arts programme.”
“It’s really disappointing to see so many wonderful academics having to go.”
She said she understood that all students would be able to finish their degrees, but that the future was uncertain.
Dougall McNeill, the branch president of the Tertiary Education Union (TEU), said the hundreds of job cuts proposed have been received with anger, and signals the beginning of the end for the tertiary sector.
“We’re angry at the damage that’s been done to this university by years of misleadership under its previous vice-chancellor and by the damage that’s been done to universities nationally by sustained underfunding going on over several years now... so something has had to go and what we’re seeing now across the country is the beginning of the bleeding out of our tertiary education sector.”
McNeill said the sector urgently needs a funding injection to save staff and students from prolonged uncertainty around their careers and education.
“That’s why we’re going to do our very best to try and stop them because you can’t have a functioning tertiary education system providing the kind of research and teaching the country needs if it’s run on a shoestring and if it’s run with bare bones.”
He said if the cuts continue, there will be less on offer for students.
“It will have to mean fewer subjects. It will have to mean less diversity, less richness, less depth.”
The university has around 2330 fulltime equivalent staff and more than 1100 of those are involved in teaching and research over nine faculties - eight of which conduct teaching and research.
It comes after student enrolment at the university has dwindled in recent years, with fewer students this year than in the previous three.
This year, VUW has 14,700 fulltime students down from 17,000 last year. In 2020, there were 16,000.