The Auckland University of Technology (AUT) has just announced a proposal to cut at least 40 jobs from its Culture & Society department.
According to Alison Sykora, AUT’s Head of Communications, the declining student enrolments in the humanities and arts is the reason behind the proposed cuts.
“Since 2012, enrolments have dropped by 700 EFTS.
“We have announced a proposal (not a final decision) to reduce headcount in the Faculty by up to 40 FTE (full time equivalents),” says Sykora.
She states that the job cuts will be implemented on a voluntary severance basis.
When asked if any other faculties are undergoing proposed job cuts, Sykora’s answer was that the University as a whole is growing this year.
The Dean of the Culture & Society faculty, Nigel Hemmington, is quoted by the NZ Herald expressing his discontent.
“This is disappointing, as student numbers continue to decline and as a result, the faculty faces significant financial challenges in 2018 and 2019.”
The NZ Herald also spoke to Tertiary Education Union national industrial officer, Irena Brorens, who says the faculty staff was “rattled” by the proposal.
"People were surprised at the number of positions that were affected - quite shocked.
"It is 40 full-time equivalent staff positions, so that's more than 40 people. That's a large number to be affected," she told the NZ Herald.
Double-major Criminology & Psychology AUT student, Kajol Singh, also voiced her disappointment.
“I think that it is horrible that the University wants to cut jobs in our department,” said Singh.
“It seems that no one has bothered with the causation but they are happy to carry out by cutting 40 fully employed staff jobs.”
Singh also praised the lecturers in the Culture & Society department.
“All of the lecturers in the Culture & Society faculty are so lovely and caring, it is such a shame that we have to see some of them go. I personally really hope that no criminology or psychology lecturers lose their jobs, as it will be AUT's loss.”
Ayana Piper-Healion, a second-year Communications student who is currently taking a Culture & Society paper, is concerned about the state of the course.
“Cutting so many roles in a faculty that is not only under-appreciated in today’s society, but is already suffering neglect and shortages at AUT, will severely impact the wellbeing and security of the students that have taken a gamble with their money, time and education by choosing this path.
“It really highlights some issues that come with tertiary education being a capitalist venture rather than a place purely focused on higher education,” said Piper-Healion.
AUT says it will work with staff and unions over the next two months before reaching a final decision.