Seven more jobs set to be cut by uni

The Otago University Students' Association has disaffiliated with the Elohim Bible Academy. Photo...
Photo: ODT files
Seven more jobs are set to go at the University of Otago as the School of Computing joins the list of departments affected by the ongoing restructuring at the academic institution.

The school was established on August 1 this year from a merger of the former departments of computer science (sciences) and information science (commerce).

It has been undergoing a restructure since August 15, with staff informed of the final decision last week.

Pro-vice-chancellor for sciences Prof Richard Barker said after formal consultation on staffing changes, a decision had been made to reduce academic staff by seven fulltime equivalent (FTE) positions, slightly fewer than the eight FTE reduction originally proposed.

Including the 0.8 FTE digital health position, jointly funded by the Dunedin School of Medicine, which was out of scope, this would leave the School of Computing with 22 (21.8 FTE) permanent academic positions.

Prof Barker said changes would take effect sometime in 2024.

Richard Barker
Richard Barker
Tertiary Education Union organiser Phil Edwards said it was discussing with the university how the restructure would be implemented, particularly whether all permanent staff would need to reapply for new positions.

Mr Edwards said there could also be some positions out of scope which were affected.

Prof Barker said a major driver of the changes was the need to reduce high staffing levels after the merger from two separate divisions, each of which had been competing for a diminishing pool of students and were suffering financially.

"The university’s fiscal position makes this situation unsustainable," Prof Barker said.

"Implementation of these changes will be planned to ensure that the school of computing is able to meet its commitments to supporting students enrolled in the current academic programmes.

"A priority for the school of computing will be to develop a new and attractive academic programme and to continue its strategically important collaborations across the university."

Prof Barker said he was aware this process would continue to be challenging as it worked through the next steps with affected staff, and they would be supported through this.

When the merger was first announced in August, Prof Barker said the new school would "deliver an academic programme that builds on the competitive strengths of the two former departments across the technical aspects of computer science".

The university is undertaking a major review of its programmes and papers as part of efforts to make permanent cost savings of $60 million from its operating budget.

Reviews are ongoing, but so far more than 120 jobs have been cut through a mixture of voluntary redundancies and departmental restructures.