The University of Otago says there is no ''hidden agenda''
behind a project comparing its staffing levels with those of
The university has been running the general staff
benchmarking project, called UniForum, since 2012 and
according to its website is now collating the results of a
''staff activity'' survey carried out last year.
This comes as academic departments have been asked to tighten
their belts as the university faces a funding shortfall.
Planning and funding director David Thomson said the project
was not about looking for areas to make cuts.
''We briefed staff very openly about UniForum when we
commenced our involvement with it, in part so it was clear
there was not some hidden agenda behind the exercise. We are
not engaged in this exercise with an agenda around cutting if
times get tough.''
Rather, the project gave the university the chance - ''for
the first time'' - to compare the ''effectiveness and
efficiency'' of its support services with those of
universities in New Zealand and Australia.
''It has given us some insights that may prove helpful as our
support services evolve, as they constantly do, to meet the
changing needs of our academic staff and student community.''
The project had shown the university how it differed from
other universities, including having more student support
staff due to it being a residential university.
Tertiary Education Union organiser Shaun Scott said the union
was initially concerned the project could be part of plans to
cut jobs, but had been assured otherwise by the university.
''We did have nervousness at the time ... but, in all
honesty, it hasn't happened, which has been a pleasant
surprise,'' he said.