31 May 2023

University of Otago staff, supporters make a stand over job cuts plan

4:45 pm on 31 May 2023
Job cuts protest at Otago University

Staff, students and members of the public joined the march in Dunedin. Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

Hundreds of protesters marched against proposed job cuts at the University of Otago today.

It was the second protest where staff, students and members of the public marched through the campus.

They were pushing back against the university's request for staff to consider redundancies in a bid to save $60 million.

Protect Otago Action Group member Tyler West said they did not want to see staff cuts.

"The cuts that have been announced so far have been quite vague. It's several hundred, we don't know how many that's going to be.

"We think as an organisation and as a campaign that the government should step in and intervene."

Among the crowd of marchers there were also Dunedin City councillors, community members, and a monkey-mask wearing, guitar-playing unicyclist.

Job cuts protest at Otago University

One of the more unusually dressed protesters. Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

"For staff, they're probably going to get it worst and first. They are facing down not knowing whether they have job security or not," West said.

"They are also going to be facing down a great degree of uncertainty as to whether the degrees that they presently teach are going to continue unchanged."

University of Otago acting vice-chancellor Professor Helen Nicholson said the university was very aware of the detrimental impact of any potential cuts on staff, their whānau, students, and the wider Otago community.

"A number of options are currently being considered as to how we will make savings, but as we have previously advised staff, it is unlikely that we will be able to make the sustained operational savings required without reducing staff numbers."

Job cuts protest at Otago University

The university has responded to the protest, saying it is aware about the adverse impact of the proposed job cuts. Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

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