Lincoln University job cuts save nearly $4m

Sixty-three Lincoln University staff have taken early retirement or voluntary redundancy as the institution cuts $3.9 million in costs.

Some staff are "really p..... off" about how the cost-cutting has been handled, with the commerce faculty passing a no-confidence vote in its senior managers.

Vice-chancellor Andrew West said he was aware of the no-confidence vote and was giving it "due consideration". "I will respond, but I don't intend to respond at the drop of a hat."

A staff member said the vote of no confidence came from agricultural management and property studies department academics.

Despite agriculture staff teaching "very labour-intensive" land-based courses, and feeling "pretty secure" it took the biggest hit, the staff member said. Five out of 10 positions were disestablished.

They had opted for early retirement instead of going through the redundancy process, because it was a case of "jump before you're pushed".

"We're not happy. People are really p..... off."

The staff member predicted remaining staff would end up leaving under the stress of extra workload.

West said: "If the university had become insolvent then those people would be even more upset."

The reductions secured most of its $4m savings target, and supported "a return to financial viability" for the land-based university.

After receiving more than 340 submissions on its proposed changes, half of the proposals were altered as a result, he said.

There was an overall reduction of 48 full-time equivalent positions, with 89 per cent reached through "voluntary means". "This is not a pleasant process for staff, students or the university itself.

"I hope this is the only time we have to make this sort of expenditure cut at this scale . . . almost the whole university simultaneously."

Green Party agriculture spokesman Steffan Browning raised concerns yesterday about Lincoln cutting its agro-ecology, or organics, senior lecturer.

"We need more support for research and teaching of sustainable farming practices to protect our 100 per cent pure brand."

The Press