Business school might be about to lose 10 jobs

Almost 10 jobs are likely to be axed when two departments at the University of Otago's School of Business are merged, a draft merger proposal says.

Most of those to go would be lecturers, the proposal, leaked to the Otago Daily Times yesterday said.

The university plans to merge the accountancy and business law department and the finance and quantitative analysis department into a single entity. Some papers would be discontinued and business law courses would be taught by law faculty staff.

Together, the departments employ 29 academic staff and 5.8 full-time equivalent (FTE) administrative staff, but the proposal is for a new structure comprising 21 academic staff and four general staff, an overall reduction of 9.8 FTE positions.

All jobs would be disestablished, then staff would be invited to apply for the new positions.

The merger was announced by School of Business dean Prof George Benwell in May to address his "enduring concern" about the department's poor performance-based research fund ratings.

Applicants' research records will be the main criteria for selection for new academic positions, the proposal document shows.

A two-week consultation period on the proposal closed yesterday, with the final proposal due in a fortnight. A new structure will be in place by the beginning of the 2011 academic year.

A School of Business staff member, who would not be named, yesterday said the mood among staff was "pretty negative", especially for lecturers who believed they were most at risk of missing out on positions in the merged department.

People working there were concerned about their own futures and concerned about colleagues who might lose their jobs, the staff member said.

Some were angry about the emphasis on research in the selection criteria for new positions and believed the research and publication requirements were tougher than those in their existing job descriptions and employment contracts, the staff member said.

Like other tertiary institutions, Otago is trying to cut costs and streamline operations because of increasing cost pressures and a signalled reduction in Government funding from next year.

Four academic reviews and two general reviews are under way at Otago, all at different stages of their review process.

On Monday, the final restructuring proposal put to College of Education staff said 15.6 full-time equivalent positions - 12 teacher educator positions and 3.6 general staff positions - would go before the end of next year, with more job losses possible after a contract to train Malaysian student teachers finished at the end of 2012.

It is not known yet how many jobs might go because of the closure of the design studies department, confirmed in May, or from the merger of the social work and community department and part of the anthropology, gender and sociology department, confirmed in June, or after the finalisation of reviews of Uniprint and the human resources and payroll department.

Staff made redundant or choosing redundancy would receive up to 42 weeks' salary, the university's website says.

Staff employed for up to two years would be paid eight weeks' redundancy, with entitlements rising steadily after that.

A person with 10 years' service would receive 32 weeks' salary, a person with 15 years' service 37 weeks' salary and a person with 18 years' service 40 weeks' salary. Those with 20 years of service or more would receive the maximum payment.



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