20 Jul 2023

University of Otago makes more than 100 staff redundant in cost-cutting bid

6:13 pm on 20 July 2023
Clock tower building on campus

The University of Otago has confirmed it will go ahead with voluntary redundancies with more than 100 staff set to go. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

More than 100 University of Otago staff have been made redundant in a bid to cut costs.

Earlier this year, the university confirmed it needed to reduce its annual operating budget by roughly $60 million and it was asking for voluntary redundancies.

Last month, the government announced a $128m boost to subsidies for degree and postgraduate enrolments for the next two years to support cash-strapped universities.

But the University of Otago confirmed it would go ahead with voluntary redundancies.

University of Otago's Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Nicholson said 107 of the 190 applications for redundancy have been accepted.

It is the equivalent of 81 full-time workers.

It would save $1m this year and created a permanent saving of $9m from 2025 year on year, Nicholson said.

"Although the voluntary redundancy round has closed, we will still consider applications on a case-by-case basis.

"The university remains in deficit and requires permanent savings of $61.5m by the end of 2025 so we can return to a surplus in 2026."

The university has identified opportunities to save $38m, but it has a further $23.5m to find, she said.

But that meant further redundancies could be on the cards as more savings were needed, Nicholson said.

Close to $26m needed to be saved this year.

"We have already achieved savings of $13m. We have identified a further $8.7m of possible savings which would result in $21.7 of the $25.8m.

"We still need to identify $4.1m of further savings this year.

"The university continues to work locally and nationally, alongside unions and OUSA [Otago University Students' Association] to seek additional funding opportunities."

The university confirmed the redundant staff would not be leaving immediately and it would be a more gradual process.

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