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March 16, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Tutes Guillotined

The fallout from Victoria University of Wellington’s decision last year to cut funding to its schools has finally reached a head, with many students startled to find the number of tutorial classes dramatically reduced, or their attendance made completely voluntary, for 2009.

Victoria has slashed funding to a number of faculties, depleting funds typically used for tutorial resources, and leaving a number of postgraduate students with little alternative but to seek employment outside the confines of the university.

University staff were informed in 2008 of the proposed cutbacks, which has been pinned on the inclement economic climate.

ANTH 101 Course Coordinator Hal Levine notified students last week that the number of scheduled tutorials for the course had been halved. Students were also advised not to expect any assistance with essays or exam preparation during tutorials.

While Levine listed a number of alternative Victoria support services, such as Student Learning Support Services (SLSS), he warned that tutors will be under more pressure due to reduced office hours.

The damning reaction from students has raised serious questions about how the University allocates funding for undergraduate courses.

An unnamed source told Salient, “It’s bullshit. It’s not like our school fees have gone down! The course fee is still at around $600.”

The source challenged the University on the integrity of its funding system.

“Where’s all our money going if the University is still pocketing the same amount, but slashing departmental budgets?”

The cutbacks have angered more than just those students directly involved. A family member close to the unnamed source was equally upset.

“[This is a] blatant reduction in the quality of education being provided, with no change to the fees charged by the University.” The source also claimed that the department was compensating for the reduced contact hours by “increasing the course readings.”

The cuts come on the back of an increase in student numbers at Victoria for 2009.

Victoria University of Wellington Student Association President Jasmine Freemantle found more than a smidge of irony in the University’s cutbacks.

“I think that it’s ironic that the university claims its two core purposes are teaching and research, when to me there appears to be time and time again more emphasis put on research, particularly money generating research than teaching,” she said.

“[This] can be seen in the increasing workloads of academic staff and the fact that students are getting a lot less bang for their buck.

“This is something the schools have had no choice but to go ahead and do,” said Freemantle.

Students are unlikely to see a return of old-fashioned tutorials, with cuts expected to increase or be maintained at current levels from 2010 onwards.

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