Staff review at university

An unprecedented review of more than 2000 general staff at the University of Otago has sparked ''huge concern'' among its employees, the Tertiary Education Union says.

''The immediate reactions have been concern and surprise from [union] members,'' TEU organiser Shaun Scott said.

University human resources director Kevin Seales said vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne announced to staff last week support services across the university would be reviewed.

''This is the first time that a review of this kind has been conducted at Otago,'' he said.

''The first phase of the project is to take a careful look at the university's service activities and to seek staff input on potential areas of improvement.''

That phase was expected to finish by early next year.

Mr Seales said as part of last week's staff forum Prof Hayne also outlined funding challenges the university faced.

In July, the university projected a shortfall of $5.66 million by the end of the year as a result of equivalent full-time students (Efts) enrolments falling behind budget.

Mr Scott said union members had ongoing concern about the lack of funding from the Government to meet the increasing costs of tertiary education.

''Squarely, the blame for that lies at the feet of the Government,'' he said.

''That said, the university makes decisions within that environment about how they spend their money.''

The university had met Dunedin staff throughout this week, and planned meetings with Christchurch and Wellington staff next Friday, Mr Scott said.

It was still ''quite unclear'' what the result of the review would be.

''People are fearful for their jobs, understandably.''

No firm numbers of how many staff positions might be cut had been provided, he said.

Mr Seales said the size and scale of any potential staffing reductions was not known.

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