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Senior teaching fellow Ali East spoke out after the university confirmed to staff on Thursday, 12 full-time equivalent (FTE) would be cut.
As a result of consultation one technical staff FTE, which was proposed to be cut, was being kept.
The university also confirmed it was removing the dance specialisation from the school, with half an FTE staff member moving to the department of music, theatre and performing arts.
Ms East, who was a student at the school in 1967 and one of the last connections to its founder, Prof Philip Smithells, said he would have been disappointed a key part of the school was being dropped.
She believed the university and the sciences division undervalued the hands-on parts of the school, with outdoor education also on the chopping block.
"There are those within the sciences who don’t see hands-on experiential learning as valid in an academic setting."
Both she and the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) were also concerned at the effect cutting dance would have on the university’s commitment to its Maori and Pacific frameworks, which were important parts of the discipline.
Despite yesterday’s announcement, she and the TEU were determined to fight for a stronger dance presence at the university.
Retaining one or two papers was not enough and she was calling on vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne to at least retain the minor degree in dance.
Division of sciences pro-vice-chancellor Prof Richard Barker took a different view, saying the changes meant the school was heading for a "much stronger future".
"Because we have addressed the need for change now, I believe the school will have a bright future both nationally and internationally," he said.
Taking into account voluntary redundancies, the changes would save the university about $2million per year.
Prof Barker acknowledged dance and its role in cultural expression was important to Maori and Pacific people. The division of sciences took the university’s Maori and Pacific strategic frameworks seriously and the school’s senior lecturer in Maori physical education and health was not included in the management of change process.
"Unfortunately we cannot do everything that we would like and we have had to make some hard choices about dance to ensure that the school stands on a secure financial footing to protect its future," Prof Barker said.
Only 2.7 FTE students were doing the school’s 200-level and 300-level dance papers, he said.
The cuts came amid falling student numbers and poor financial performance across the school.
Original cuts proposal: Two administration full-time equivalent (FTE) staff, 7.5 academic staff and 3.5 technical staff: A total of 13 FTE cut
The decision: Two administration staff cut, 7.5 academic staff and 2.5 technical staff: A total of 12