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The University is closing the Māori Business programme, in a move criticised by VUWSA.
Māori Business has previously been offered as a major for the Bachelor of Commerce, but has not been open for student enrolment since 2012.
Six students are currently enrolled in the programme, and two lecturers are employed to teach courses such as Treaty Settlement Process and Advanced Management of Māori Resources.
Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Commerce at Victoria Business School, Professor Bob Buckle, said the proposed closure follows a review of the programme and “a decade of steadily declining enrolments.”
Buckle said Māori student numbers had declined within the programme, but had grown in Victoria Business School as a whole, up from seven per cent in 2000 to ten per cent in 2014.
“A range of initiatives designed to achieve these objectives have been introduced in recent years and have resulted in a significant improvement in Māori-student success in Commerce programmes,” Buckle said.
The University said the decision on the programme’s future had not yet been made, as it was due to be considered by the Academic Board last Thursday.
However, VUWSA’s Academic Vice-President Rāwinia Thompson said the Senior Leadership Team had already decided to cut the programme, and Academic Board was merely a “discussion and notification.”
Thompson said the “conception of tertiary education as primarily developing employable graduates does not favour programmes like Māori Business”, and that education in the area had far-reaching benefits for students and their whānau and communities.
“All things that matter aren’t necessarily those which can be measured.”
Thompson was also concerned with the loss of the Business School’s only two Māori academic staff. She said it was beneficial for both Māori and non-Māori students to be educated by Māori academics, and the job losses “might raise questions about the school’s commitment to equity in both learning and teaching, and the Treaty of Waitangi.”
The Tertiary Education Union echoed these concerns, with TEU Tumu Arataki, James Houkamau, saying they understood the University’s “process has been terrible.”
“It’s a move that seems to go against the strategic directions that are set out for the University in terms of the importance of Māori and Pacific people’s contributions to the University and its programmes.”
Earlier this year, the Social Policy major was downgraded to a minor following a review of the programme. In 2011, the University closed the Gender and Women’s Studies programme.