Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Massey to slash 60 science jobs

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Food tech and biological sciences among those affected as university confirms it is going ahead with restructure.
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About 60 science jobs will be lost in a cost-cutting restructure of Massey University.

Staff and students were told of the changes on Thursday following two consultation periods.  It comes as news the university is facing a projected $50 million operating deficit for this financial year.

Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Sciences, Professor Ray Geor said the changes mean food technology and biological sciences will be consolidated to the Manawatū campus. The engineering, supply chain management and quality systems qualifications will be closed and not take enrollments from next year.

The changes end the provision of  courses in natural sciences and food technology in Auckland, where they were run out of the $150m state-of-the-art science and technology building in Albany.

“All current students will be assisted in completing their qualifications, either through teach-out of the qualification, transfer within Massey (to another supervisor if conducting research) or to another New Zealand institution,” Geor said.

He said the changes will allow the college to build on its world-class teaching and research in areas of critical importance to NZ, while addressing challenging financial circumstances faced by the college and university.

“We acknowledge this will be a challenging time for staff and are providing support to those impacted.”

Geor said the proposal-for-change process involved careful consideration of feedback during two consultation periods. 

The decision follows months of negotiations between the university, affected staff and the union, whose alternative proposal was rejected.

Tertiary Education Union organiser Ben Schmidt could not be reached for comment but told the New Zealand Herald on Thursday that the outcome is “deeply disappointing” for members.

“They are hardworking and crucial parts of the university and science community, and this is completely unnecessary, short-sighted and the wrong decision to make,” he said.

Schmidt previously told Farmers Weekly that food technology, engineering and natural sciences are essential for growing NZ’s economy and for it to be an attractive and sustainable tourist destination.

“Access to studying engineering in Manawatū is also important for regional economic growth and capacity building.”

He said the new government has said it wants to build an economy that enables wealth creation, adds value to exports and invests in IT to promote economic growth and employment. Fundamental to this is high educational achievement leading to high value employment opportunities.

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