Prospective Students Take Places in Rest of World
Otago Fires Marketing Dept
The University has experienced a dip in student numbers, leading to “caution” in its current financial outlook.
Full-time enrolments have dropped from 19, 661 in 2010 to a forecasted 19, 370 this year. The University’s director of planning and funding, David Thomson, said the drop is in accordance with the cycles normally experienced by the university, which usually consist of two- to three-year blocks of lowered student enrolment rates sandwiched between 10- to 12-year periods of growth.
The current dip can be partially attributed to the tightening of the requirements to enter university, as well as a decline in the number of international students choosing to study in New Zealand. This drop in enrolments, in addition to an expected $1.063 million decrease in performance based research funding (PBRF), has left the University with an “uncertain” financial outlook, according to Otago’s financial services director Grant McKenzie.
David Thomson justified the University’s tightened enrolment policies, which have led to less students enrolling, saying the focus on quality would eventually boost the University’s reputation and attract more students.
In the meantime the total operating budgets of all academic departments have been reduced by 1%, amounting to a $2.6 million cut. Instead of making cutbacks now academic departments have elected to dip into money budgeted in previous years but not spent, taking $9.39 million from the University’s "carry forward" balance. At this point Critic suffered numerical overload and instead decided to wildly speculate that library books, internet access, and the privilege of using the Link as a thoroughfare will have to be monetized in a kind of libertarian paradise created to save the University from bankruptcy.
However, a source with access to the Clocktower’s financial operations told Critic that this is not the case. “All that normal stuff affecting students will be fine. Instead have a think about the thing that’s costing the University the most – staff salaries. If there are cuts, that’s where things are going to be cut.” The source continued, “Academics are transient, so they could up and leave if they can get more money elsewhere. But it looks like that won’t actually happen. Staff will be pretty relaxed in the meantime because they know they’ve been taken care of in other years.” Apparently “taken care of” in the academic world means regular annual raises, which may explain the yearly fee rises that you have probably spent the last few years ignoring while letting Studylink pick up the tab.