Academics fight proposed staff cuts

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 12:00 05/12/2012

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Massey University College of Education academics set to lose their jobs are challenging the decision, as the department prepares to shift campuses in the new year.

The 25 job cuts proposed as part of the university's academic review earlier this year will downsize the academic department by about a third when it moves from its Hokowhitu site to Turitea next year.

The college is to rebrand to an Institute of Education and shift focus to graduate and post-graduate-level teacher education.

It will also have higher expectations of its academics' qualifications, with staff requiring a PhD or enrolment in a post-doctoral research programme.

But some laid-off staff are scratching their heads over the changes.

The Tertiary Education Union is investigating the option of employment action, Massey union leader Dean Scott said.

School of Curriculum and Pedagogy senior science lecturer Bill MacIntyre was among those laid off, despite being awarded a vice-chancellor's award for sustained excellence in teaching earlier this year.

"It has shocked us," Mr MacIntyre said.

"They came in with a proposal that said we need to cut staff and we need to do it today.

"The students in the remaining two or three years, will they have the quality teaching being provided for them?

"I'm not sure they will, with those quality teachers being cut who have specialised in pedagogy and have that understanding."

The proposal includes a call to increase the education college's staff-to-student ratio from 1:17 to 1:20.

Mr Scott said the associated cuts were driven by cost cutting and most who lost their jobs had an average of at least 15 years' experience with specialties in specific areas of education.

Massey spokesman James Gardiner said the university took its employment obligations seriously.

"From the outset it shared its intentions with staff and all potentially affected groups, sought feedback from a wide range of groups, including staff, students, schools and professional bodies, reviewed its proposals in light of that before reaching preliminary and final decisions.

"I believe that process was rigorously adhered to in this instance but if individuals or their union feel that is not the case, we would be happy to hear from them."

The proposal was released in February to the College of Education and was sent to more than 500 schools and early childhood associations.

Job losses were announced in March and the process of voluntary redundancies was confirmed to affected staff last month.

Mr Gardiner said Massey would ensure students being supervised by outgoing staff were provided for.

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The job cuts bring the number of tertiary level staff laid off in the region this year to at least 55, after staff at UCOL's Palmerston North and Whanganui campuses also lost their jobs in cost-cutting measures.

- The Manawatu Standard

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