DCC may go into bat for university

The Dunedin City Council may help lobby for more government funding for the financially strapped University of Otago.

The university is running a deficit this year — it is poised to be in the red again next year — and has called for voluntary redundancies.

A notice of motion to go before the council next week asks that it recognise "the vital and critical role the University of Otago plays in the wider wellbeing of Dunedin City".

If approved, the council would offer its support in "lobbying for greater government funding of New Zealand’s first university".

It would also direct the council’s chief executive to determine what, if any, assistance needed to be provided to the university.

The notice was put up by Cr David Benson-Pope, seconded by Cr Carmen Houlahan.

Protect Otago Action Group representative Olivier Jutel said the Government needed to get serious about funding universities adequately.

Support for this message was appreciated, Dr Jutel said. But

he also signalled the council might not be looking to do quite enough.

"There needs to be a call to halt the restructure," he said.

Dr Jutel said the group had tried to engage with Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich.

"We’ve not had a chance to speak with the mayor directly."

A "Save Tertiary Education Kōrero" is to be held today at Age Concern Otago in Dunedin, from 1pm.

The action group will be joined at the public forum by Green Party co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw, Otago University Students’ Association president Quintin Jane and representatives of the Tertiary Education Union.

"The success of Dunedin depends on the strength of our education sector," Dr Jutel said.

"We all have a stake in avoiding the irreparable damage these significant staff cuts would cause."