Victoria University warns of potential job cuts as international enrolments plummet

Wellington's Victoria University is warning staff cuts are likely due to the huge decline in international students.

The university is forecasting a loss of millions of dollars in 2021 amid COVID-19 border restrictions blocking paying students from overseas.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford told Newshub the number of international students is dwindling.

"We'd normally have about 3300 students in a given year from about 115 different countries, we're now down to about 2200."

Victoria University could lose another 1000 students in 2021 if the borders remain closed.

It's forecasting a $33 million loss in 2021, on top of the $19 million deficit for 2020.

Prof Guilford said as a result of the loss, job cuts are "quite likely".

The university's looking to cut costs elsewhere first, and limit any redundancies to fewer than 100.

"Worst case scenario would be probably 300 job losses and that would be if we fail to lift our revenues," Prof Guilford said.

The Tertiary Education Union Branch believes the university should run up a debt and keep jobs. 

"If the next message is that we're moving to the cuts phase, we're ready to fight, and our members are ready to fight for every job," co-president Dougal McNeill said.

Victoria University is still fighting for overseas students to be allowed back in - asking the Government to allow them back if they go through private quarantine.

Prof Guilford said unlike returning New Zealanders, they can allow students who only come from COVID-19 safe countries.

A similar scheme could also provide relief to secondary schools; Auckland's Rangitoto College is forecasting a $2 million loss over two years principal Patrick Gale told Newshub.

"We'd love to have some assurances from the Government over any form of subsidy for next year, I also think the border exemptions are something we need to start looking seriously at," Gale said.

With those exemptions unlikely to happen soon - international student numbers may continue to fall.