Job losses are expected after the University of Otago decided
to suspend two of its teacher training programmes.
An email notifying students of the changes was leaked to the
Otago Daily Times yesterday and later confirmed by the
Tertiary Education Union and the university.
The courses being cut for next year were a one-year graduate
diploma and a four-year bachelor's degree in education
studies. The email said the decision was made at the
''university level'' for ''financial reasons''.
The cuts come after chief operating officer John Patrick last
week said academic divisions were expected to find savings to
make up for $2.114 million of a $4.183 million shortfall
caused by a failure to meet forecast student numbers.
When contacted about the possibility these cuts would result
in job losses, human resources director Kevin Seales last
week said: ''The planned savings mentioned at the council
meeting ... were for 2014 only and, at this stage, there are
no plans to carry out any restructuring to achieve them.''
TEU organiser Shaun Scott said this appeared inconsistent
with what staff in the College of Education were told this
''It does cause us a great deal of concern that one week
there is a public statement from the university saying one
thing and then a week or so later there is communication to
staff indicating that some of their jobs may be at threat
related to financial reasons.''
A spokesman for the university said Mr Seales was unaware of
the plan to suspend the courses when he made last week's
statement and the decision was unrelated to the academic
divisions being asked to find savings for the 2014 year.
Mr Scott said it was unknown at this stage how many jobs
would likely be affected by the change.
The cuts were the latest blow to morale for the college,
which had gone through ''constant change'' since merging with
the university in 2007''It's hard for them in that
environment where you are feeling vulnerable about your
Humanities pro-vice-chancellor Prof Brian Moloughney said the
''staffing implications'' of suspending the programmes had
not yet been worked through.
Enrolments in the graduate diploma had declined from 188 in
2010 to 96 this year and the new Master of Teaching and
Learning programme introduced in 2013 was preferred by
The four-year bachelor of education studies had ''always
attracted very small numbers'' as undergraduates preferred
the three-year bachelor of teaching.
''For financial reasons it is not possible to run parallel
pathways at both the undergraduate and graduate levels,'' he