University Scraps Proposal to Cut Marine Science Staff

University Scraps Proposal to Cut Marine Science Staff

The University of Otago has retracted its plan to cut 6-7 effective full-time staff members in the Marine Science staff department as part of a Management of Change process.  

The announcement followed significant public opposition to the move, with a 6.5 thousand signature petition being delivered to the Uni in October at a 250 person rally. At the rally multiple staff and students labelled the proposal “crazy”. 

Professor Richard Barker, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Sciences, told Critic that staffing cuts “will not proceed due to a variety of factors including voluntary redundancy, and changes to the full-time status of some staff through mutual agreement.”

Tayla Hill, an undergraduate Marine Science student who oppossed the cuts told Critic she is "just over the moon" about the decision. "Do the mahi get the treaaatz," she said before heading to the pub for a celebratory drink. 

OUSA Education Officer Will Dreyer, who was at the forefront of the fight against the staff cuts, said OUSA is pleased that the University has listened to staff and student voices.

"We are extremely proud of all of the work done by the students who mobilised alongside us in support of the academics and see it as a significant win for student activism, climate research, and the wellbeing of the University environment as a whole," he said. 

The panel in charge of the Management of Change process received 232 formal submissions on the move and have “given thoughtful consideration to the feedback,” according to a University spokesman. 

The Management of Change was brought in to address the significant budget deficit of the Marine Science department, which in 2019 is expected to be $4.2 million. 

Even with staffing cuts no longer necessary, Barker said the department still faces significant financial challenges, and action will need to be taken to ensure the department can be run sustainably into the future. He is currently working on an updated proposal, “that takes the feedback from submissions into account”. 

A University spokesman confirmed this updated proposal will not involve other staff changes. 

Barker said he “appreciate[s] that this delay may add further concern following what has already been a tough time for staff and students, however it is important the revised proposal is representative of the feedback received. I also see it important that this process is thorough and well-thought-out so it can bring us to a sustainable conclusion."


This article first appeared in Issue 26, 2019.
Posted 4:01pm Wednesday 27th November 2019 by Charlie O’Mannin.