the University of Otago's divisions have responded to a
call to find cuts as the university faces a tight budget,
vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne says.
This comes as the university's council yesterday passed a
"difficult" budget for 2013 amid tight government funding,
falling enrolments and increased costs.
Prof Hayne said at a university council meeting that given
this environment, the budget "was not easy to balance".
However, largely because the divisions had responded to a
call to find cuts, it had been able to come up with a budget
that ensured "high quality" services would continue to be
provided to students.
Otago University pro-vice-chancellor health sciences Prof
Peter Crampton told the Otago Daily Times the funding
situation meant the division and departments within it were
looking for "simple" and "not so simple" cuts.
"We are doing the prudent thing, which is being very careful
about working with a three-year budgeting horizon, so every
staff appointment is now made within the context of 'well how
is that going to be in three years [and] is this a
"Whereas five years ago, with growth funding, it was far less
focused on those sorts of discussions, because we were
confidently predicting a growth in funding year by year," he
When it came to "simple cuts", the health sciences division
was looking to make savings on contracts on "everything from
photocopiers to laboratory supplies".
The "not so simple cuts" included looking at the
opportunities to take advantage of video-conferencing to
increase sharing across the School of Medicine's three
Prof Crampton predicted the tight funding environment would
last for a while yet.
"I think we have had eight to ten years of essentially growth
funding and expansion of programmes and expansion of research
... and now I anticipate we will be approaching roughly the
same period of time, maybe longer, who knows, of more
Despite this, the cuts would not affect the student
experience, he said.
"It's the poor heads of departments that have to sweat
through their annual budgets ... they are the ones who really
experience it and staff members at the coal face will be
experiencing, in some instances, the pressure of tougher
Otago University director of financial services Grant
McKenzie said the tight financial situation meant the
divisions had to operate with less money.
As a response to that, both the service and academic
divisions had cut costs and carried out reviews looking for
The academic divisions had also used carry-forwards, which
were savings from previous year's budgets, in order to to
"lessen the impact of a tight financial situation".
However, the use of carry-forwards did not negate the need to
search for savings as the carry-forward balances could
eventually run out.
"Divisions and departments know that carry-forward balances
only provide a short-term solution, so it is unlikely they
will depend on them to deal with an ongoing tight financial
situation and not look at other options," he said.
The budget noted that the academic divisions had budgeted to
spend $8.36 million of carry-forwards next year, which would
leave a total remaining balance of $48.282 million.