It is confirmed, mandatory redundancies in the Humanities Division of the University of Otago are imminent.
Emails from the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Humanities Division, Professor Tony Ballantyne, stated the cuts will primarily affect the history and music departments.
The anthropology, english and linguistics, and languages and cultures departments will also be subject to “management of change” processes in the weeks to come.
Professor Ballantyne, in a recent email, confirmed that the heads of a “small number of departments” had been contacted about programmes where formal “management of change” processes are planned in the coming weeks.
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Department heads are to gain more information on the long term plans of all 450 staff to assist the division in planning their “likely” staffing profile for the next “five to seven years.”
Despite these changes, Ballantyne said that students currently enrolled in majors subject to changes will be able to complete their degrees.
Ballantyne also said most departments would not see reduced staff numbers, with changes mainly designed to minimise the gap between income and cost in the departments.
“There is no doubt that our [humanities] division is facing some significant challenges and that the coming months will be very difficult,” he said.
2016 enrolments fell 4.6%—equivalent to 237 full-time students—from the 4944 full-time students enrolled in the Humanities Division last year. Enrollments have been declining since 2011.
2017 will likely see a reassessment of other divisions and departments, with the College of Education as well as the Department of Philosophy next up.
When speaking on the process ahead, Ballantyne encouraged staff to “communicate responsibly and thoughtfully, particularly in public settings.”
One staff member, who chose to remain anonymous, refuted Ballantyne’s claims, saying management of change “is just redundancy.”
“They should call it what it is. They don’t want to use the ‘r’ word, but it is,” they said.
Some concerned staff have already approached Tertiary Education Union (TEU). Organiser for the TEU in Dunedin, Shaun Scott, said “it is a stressful time [for staff] as they await the next steps.” The union will support affected members throughout this process.
The release of further information was to occur after further “communication” with staff, a university spokesperson said.