Eighteen teaching jobs at Bay of Plenty's leading polytechnic could face the axe, as the institute attempts to offset financial strain.
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology chief executive Leon Fourie notified staff today of a proposal to reduce staffing numbers by 18.4 full-time equivalent roles to "ensure the ongoing sustainability of the institution".
The proposed job losses will be across the whole region, including the institute's flagship campuses in Rotorua and Tauranga.
The institute will begin a formal consultation with unions and staff in regards to the proposal.
It comes after Fourie met with other leaders last week to discuss financial strains in the polytechnic sector, describing the situation as "trending towards a crisis".
The announcement also follows a large number of staff redundancies and resignations at the institute last year.
There were 59 staff redundancies and 28 resignations between August 1 and December 18. Fifty-five of those were from legacy Waiariki and 44 from legacy Bay of Plenty Polytechnic.
Toi Ohomai executive director people, engagment and capability, Keri-Anne Tane, said the decision had not been easy, but was necessary to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the institution.
"As the popularity of our programmes ebb and flow, it is essential to review all of those areas where it is no longer financially viable to deliver those programmes in their current form; this is something most institutions undertake regularly.
"As part of this regular review, we have identified overstaffing numbers equating to approximately 18 full time equivalent [roles], spread across our entire portfolio and across the whole region."
She said the consultation process would run for 20 working days.
"In the first instance, we are offering an opportunity for staff to consider voluntary redundancy. This comes on the back of some staff having requested this opportunity following the reorganisation of our service areas at the end of 2017.
"Of course, there will be criteria around this – we don't want to lose staff in areas where our programmes are at full capacity."
Tane said the institute regularly checked its programmes catered to the needs of the region, as well as New Zealand's skill shortage gaps.
"This balancing of the programme portfolio sees growth in some areas and reduction in others.
"We are committed to offering educational opportunities to all the people of our region.
"There are no plans to close delivery areas in our rohe and we do not anticipate there being any impact on our student body. In a small number of instances, we may defer programme start dates to allow for greater participation."
Toi Ohomai has gone through significant changes since the merging of Waiariki and Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, including "aligning services and programme delivery".
"During this process the decreasing enrolment trend through the sector was highlighted so this afforded the institution the opportunity to implement significant non-pay cost reductions and other savings to ensure that minimal institutional resizing was required.
"Our staff have been extremely professional and courageous throughout the journey
of realigning our institution. Their dedication and commitment to our students has been outstanding and we thank them wholeheartedly," Tane said.
The consultation period will close on April 6 with a proposed outcome expected by the end of that month.
The Tertiary Education Union has claimed in a media statement that the job cuts were because the institution "did not meet narrow funding metrics".
The union's national secretary Sharn Riggs said current funding rules were based on meeting narrow, market-based metrics that "ignore the huge contribution institutions like Toi Ohomai make to their communities".
"We are extremely disappointed with the chief executive's announcement today. The Minister has been told by sector leaders, staff and students that this [funding] model needs to change, now's the time to make it happen.
"Public institutions like Toi Ohomai are responsible for some of the most creative and innovative teaching in the country, and the funding model must support this."
Faculties that could face cuts:
- Tourism, Hospitality and Service Industries: 5 FTE
- Education, Health Nursing & Social Services: 1.9 FTE
- Primary Industries, Environment & Science: 5 FTE
- Trades & Logistics: 1 FTE
- Community Wellbeing & Development 3.5 FTE
- Engineering, Creative Industries, Technology & Infrastructure: 0
- Business, Management & Legal Studies: 2 FTE
* FTE is Full Time Equivalent roles