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August 17, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Otago set to slash and burn

And this time it’s not students playing with their couches

University of Otago Vice-Chancellor David Skegg has told university staff to expect job cuts and the closure of some programmes in the wake of measures being undertaken by the university to make ends meet under new budget restrictions, the Otago Daily Times reported.

The government’s effective cut to tertiary education finding in the May budget announcement has put New Zealand universities, including Victoria, under increasing financial strain.

The establishement of a task force of senior academic and financial managers to oversee across the board cost-cutting was announced by Professor Skegg recently in an email to more than 3000 University of Otago staff.

The email warned of some “very difficult decisions” ahead for the university.

“The task force will undoubtedly identify some efficiencies that can save money without impairing our academic performance,” Professor Skegg said.

“Unfortunately, however, it seems inevitable that we will need to contemplate some reductions in the numbers of academic and general staff. If this is to be done in a way that does not unduly increase everyone’s workload, we may well have to close some programmes,” he said.

The Otago Daily Times reported that Professor Skegg expects that the university will lose “several million dollars” from 2011 onwards, as a result of the government’s decision to end tripartite salary funding which was intended to narrow the salary gap between New Zealand and Australia.

Victoria University’s Chief Operating Officer, Office of the Vice-Chancellor Andrew Simpson said that Victoria has taken steps to ensure that the university remains financially sustainable in the current economic climate.

“Our planning to date has included reviewing all our operational activities and looking for opportunities to increase revenue. We are also looking at the impact of the government’s latest Budget, which will further decrease our total funding,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the university manages some redundancies from time to time; however it is too early to make any predictions for 2010 and beyond.”

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