Massey University has proposed restructuring the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, leading to potential job cuts. The proposal affects the school of humanities, media, and creative communication, as well as the school of people, environment, and planning. This follows another proposal for major changes in the College of Science two weeks ago, which faced widespread opposition. The Tertiary Education Union stated that the proposed changes would result in “devastating staffing cuts across key subject areas,” including a halving of staff in defense and security studies, development studies, English and writing, history, and politics departments. The union called the proposals short-sighted and damaging and urged the university council and vice-chancellor to halt all staffing cuts and work with the incoming government on the future of tertiary education.
The university, facing financial challenges, aims to reduce costs and generate income for financial sustainability. Cynthia White, the college’s pro-vice-chancellor, emphasized the need to align the staffing profile with the needs of each discipline, school, and college. The proposal could lead to a reduction in academic staff in several disciplines, but no qualifications would be closed. White mentioned the decline in student numbers, delayed return of international students, high employment rates, inflation, cost of living increases, and the continued impact of Covid-19 as contributing factors. The university is expected to incur a loss of about $50 million for the year. Last year, the college had a budget shortfall of $3 million, and this year, it is $6.5 million.
The restructuring proposals have faced criticism, with concerns about the impact on students, programs, and the overall quality of education. Students and staff are calling for more consideration and an extended time frame for consultation. The restructuring trend in higher education institutions, driven by financial challenges and changing demographics, has faced resistance from various stakeholders.
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