Massey university cutting science budget

By Grant Jacobs 14/11/2009 5

Just off the Manawatu Standard: Massey to take knife to sciences, prompting concern over staff redundancies and courses being dropped.

Staff are being offered voluntary retirement or redundancy, with a sweetener package offering long-serving staff up to 16 weeks’ extra pay.

But if enough staff do not take up the offer, a series of “staffing reviews” would take place next year, Prof Anderson said.

I assume this is more than sending political messages to the capital. Staff in other divisions of the university are also affected.

As an outsider, it is difficult to judge the full scale and intentions of this, but there appears to be moves to reduce some of the courses that are perceived to be duplicating effort (e.g. Information Science will apparently only be given at the Albany campus), or perceived to be less useful.

Perhaps staff at Massey might comment to present a more complete picture?

5 Responses to “Massey university cutting science budget”

  • As an insider it’s also hard to gauge scale and intent. :)

    There have been big changes at Massey, partly because of demographic factors. Student numbers have struggled to stabilise at PN, while numbers have grown rapidly at Albany. But this growth has been in Business and Information Sciences, not Sciences. The other swings are internal- some courses have become a lot less popular, some have become more popular. Universities everywhere I think, are reluctant to drop struggling programmes (usually a feeling of hope and optimism pervades operational decisions). I suspect things are at a point where some hard decisions are being contemplated.

    I understand, but I’m not sure of the veracity of this, that many labs have needed to be upgraded to meet current health-and-safety regulations (as opposed to the regs of the 70s and 80s) and this has been an expensive ‘hit’.

  • As an insider it’s also hard to gauge scale and intent. :)

    I sometimes think that university policy and politics are a mystery, even when you are inside the mystery…!

    Thanks for the insights. It makes me think that perhaps they need to communicate more effectively?

    You’ve got a good point about not wanting to let go of things. (Reminds me of some remarks in my previous post actually.)

    One of the things that I wonder is if the overall budget is more-or-less the same, but with a shift to the Albany campus? (So that the cut is only if you look at one campus and at particular disciplines.)

    I can imagine that a combination of lab upgrades (v. expensive) and poor course attendance would push for a decision to call it one way or the other rather than muddle along.

  • I don’t wish to speculate too much of course :), but my understanding that while there has been a shift to enrollments in other campuses, the overall revenue has not kept abreast of costs. Sciences has always had some cross-subsidisation from other colleges, and this is harder to afford when other colleges start to falter.

    There have always been swings in popularity of courses- I think back in the 1970s everybody (and their dog) wanted to become a marine biologist. (I actually wonder if these swings are now more volatile and of shorter cycles.)

    There are a number of programmes across all colleges that have been warned that unless there is a turn-around, ‘life support’ will be turned off. We’ve had a number of UG papers cancelled that have failed to attract 20 students per year, over the last 3 years.

  • I wonder if the swings in course choices are now more dictated by what students perceive as courses with job openings (i.e. sound investments for their fees), than it was when University Bursary more-or-less gave you a free ride?

    Of course you’d need a formal survey… redone periodically, say, every five years to determine this. Academics are great at dreaming up a another lifetime’s work on the spur of the moment… :-)

    (This line of thinking is partly underlies why I wrote “Fees or deposits for undergraduate university degree courses?”:

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