At least 168 jobs to be affected as University of Auckland proposes restructure of student services

The university has vowed to create just as many jobs as it's getting rid of.
The university has vowed to create just as many jobs as it's getting rid of. Photo credit: Getty Images

There will be mass job cuts at the University of Auckland if a restructure of student services goes ahead as planned - but the university says it'll create just as many roles as it's getting rid of.

In a consultation document sent to staff last Friday, the university revealed 168.46 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions are set to be disestablished across faculties, academic services, and communications and marketing.

Another 172.04 FTE jobs will be created if the restructure goes ahead, however - and the university says it will follow a redeployment process for impacted staff.

A spokesperson for the University of Auckland confirmed the proposal would have no impact on overall FTE roles available in student services.

A shake-up of student services has been in the works all year. The university developed a plan in May, then held a feedback period for staff and students, and last week launched a consultation process to "provide greater clarity for impacted staff".

But a staffer who passed on the consultation document to Newshub has condemned the changes, saying they will see faculty-specific advisers replaced with generalist 'student hubs'.

"I strongly believe this is actually a cost-saving exercise and do not understand how we are better supporting students as a university by cutting their access to more and more support services," they said.

"Most faculties are cutting their student support services workforce by no less than 50 percent and have actually failed to take on board much of the recommendations of staff and students during the feedback phase of the Student Services Function Review."

While it's true the changes will roughly halve the number of faculty-specific roles, the university's establishment of 'student hubs' on each campus will boost the overall number of academic service roles by just as many as are lost.

The university denies the proposed restructure is a cost-cutting exercise, with a spokesperson telling Newshub the proposal has drawn on "substantial feedback" from students and staff across the university.

But the staffer believes that claim is misleading.

"Students require more support not less, and would not have agreed to less specialist advice being available for far more generalist advice, which will be detrimental to our students' studies and experiences - especially our Māori and Pasifika students."

However the spokesperson says the University of Auckland does not anticipate students will receive any less support under the new structure, and believes it will have a "positive impact" on them overall.

In its consultation document, the university hailed the proposed changes as creating "more personalised, integrated and connected experiences for students so that their overall experience and lifelong connection to the university is enhanced".

It says the new model for student services will be more student-centric, be "excellent in performance and efficiency", better support academic leaders and result in more enrolments.

The proposed changes come just months after 300 University of Auckland staff took up the offer of a voluntary leaving package amid a drop in foreign students thanks to COVID-19.