Concerns about educational delivery, outcomes at Otago Univeristy as it braces for significant redundancies

The are concerns the likely redundancies of several hundred University of Otago staff will impact the delivery and quality of education to students. 

Otago University is set to make several hundred staff, including academics, redundant as its student numbers drop drastically. 

In a meeting with staff on Thursday, university leadership said several hundred jobs would likely be affected, as they attempt to save $60 million.

University of Otago Students' Association president Quintin Jane said he was upset to hear the news and is worried about its effects on students' education outcomes. 

"With the loss of potentially several hundred academic and professional staff across the university, there's no doubt that there are questions on how this might impact course delivery."

Jane told AM host Melissa Chan-Green the university assured current students their existing classes and programmes won't be affected. 

But he said there is a wider concern about the consequences that could follow major redundancies. 

"It will hamper staff morale, it will over time potentially hamper the education quality that comes out and these are just all things that are gonna just compound to lower the outcomes at Otago." 

Jane believes lower student enrollment is partly due to a stronger job market.

He said potential students have jumped to full-time jobs with a solid salary, instead of a "really small student income" and a hefty loan. 

"Unless you have a really genuine reason for wanting to come to university, you're going to take that salary." 

Jane wants the Government to take responsibility for universities because Otago isn't the only institution in strife.

"We've seen across the country, universities having to begin these redundancy processes. AUT did something recently and through COVID other universities like Auckland and Vic[toria] had similar processes in place," he said. 

"If this is happening everywhere across the country, it's not just an Otago-specific issue and I think that there's a responsibility for the Government to come in and look at the way their funding tertiary education, so that if there is a downturn one year it doesn't impact of the quality of delivery for students."

The University of Otago's acting vice-chancellor Helen Nicholson told students in an email it was considering multiple hard decisions to ensure it was sustainable into the future.

"This includes the possible redundancies of several hundred academic and professional staff positions. Applications for voluntary redundancy will open next week, and more job cuts are likely later in the year."

Watch the full video for more.