Canterbury Uni invites staff to resign

22:24, Oct 03 2011

Canterbury University is calling for staff to consider taking voluntary redundancy as it struggles to balance the books after losing students because of the earthquakes.

In a letter emailed to the university's 3000 staff yesterday, vice-chancellor Rod Carr said the university faced significant financial challenges after a 13 per cent drop in student numbers compared with last year.

The university has lost 25 per cent of its first-year students, 30 per cent of its international students and 8 per cent of continuing students.

About 15,500 students are enrolled at the university.

Carr told The Press yesterday that no figure had been put on expected redundancies at this stage.

He told staff that he was calling for voluntary redundancies to try to minimise the number of possible compulsory redundancies.


"While this announcement may not come as a surprise, I know it may be very unsettling, and it is our intention to offer as much support as we can," he said.

In the letter to staff, Carr said it was likely to take several years before the university's annual revenue covered its annual operating costs.

The university was probably going to have to reduce its planned capital investment and borrow to meet uninsured costs of building remediation and code compliance, Carr said.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said last month that Christchurch's tertiary institutions would receive the same funding next year despite an expected drop in enrolments.

Carr said the university needed further government money to reduce the risk and to enable it to become a sustainable operation over the next five to seven years.

"It is deeply regrettable that a force of nature has brought this upon us," he said.

Tertiary Education Union national president Sandra Grey said staff were disappointed at the announcement, but they knew it was going to happen.

"There was no doubt in anyone's mind that there was going to be some job cuts. While they're disappointed, they are realistic."

She said calling for voluntary redundancies was preferable to other options, including compulsory redun-dancies.

The union held a stopwork meeting at the university yesterday that was attended by 250 of its 1000 members.

Staff have until October 25 to apply for voluntary redundancy, which would be granted only if the staff member's role was surplus to the university's requirements.

The university intends to notify staff of any decisions by the end of November or early December.

Staff who take voluntary redundancy will receive compensation based on their collective agreement.

They will be offered career planning, and the university will pay for a consultation with a financial adviser.

The Press