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August 20, 2012 | by  | in News |
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“Voluntary” Redundancies

CANTERBURY STAFF TOLD TO GO QUIETLY

Canterbury University is asking if some of its staff would be willing to take redundancy voluntarily for the second time in ten months. Canterbury Vice-Chancellor Rod Carr has previously said a lack of funds requires the University to cut 150 staff positions over the next three years.

The University hopes that calling for voluntary redundancies will reduce the number of staff it will have to let go against their wishes.

“We really do want to try to keep the compulsory redundancies to a minimum, but it’s almost inevitable there will have to be some,’’ said Carr.

He added that the reduction in staff numbers would be achieved through a combination of retirements, cutting casual and fixed- term staff, and leaving some vacant positions unfilled. Prior to the February 2011 earthquake, Canterbury was averaging a 5.5 per cent staff turnover every year.

Fifty positions, or about 2.5 per cent of the total staff will be cut each year. This is an improvement on the 3 to 4 per cent that the University had previously predicted last October.

However, Tertiary Education Union national president Sandra Grey is critical of Canterbury’s decision.

“Piling more and more work onto fewer people is not sustainable, and will not lead to the quality education Cantabrians deserve,” she said.

Canterbury’s financial situation is the direct result of its earthquake recovery process as it faces rising insurance costs and staff costs. It is expected to run a deficit of $38 million in 2012, not reaching surplus until 2021.

In the meantime, it has used $35 million of its dwindling cash reserves to repair buildings, and plans to increase its debt from $50m to $118m by 2021.

In contrast, Otago reported a $13 million operating surplus for the first half of the year. The surplus “more than” covered the cost of repairing its Christchurch campus, said financial services director Grant McKenzie.

It is estimated Victoria ran a surplus of $5 million.

Canterbury University has experienced the worst of a nationwide drop in student numbers, with Lincoln University being the only university whose numbers have increased.

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