The University initiative which cut 160 support staff jobs for “efficiency” has led to the hiring of at least 170 full-time equivalent staff to replace them.
The Support Services Review (SSR) was implemented by then Vice-Chancellor Harlene Hayne, and basically involved yeeting many services previously handled within departments into centralised, university-wide teams. The business case for the review claimed that these job losses, and the freed-up office space, would save the Uni $15 million a year. However, an Official Information Act request from Critic Te Arohi shows that admin staff numbers have actually increased since the SSR was implemented.
For example, combining all departmental admin staff into Client Services (and allowing them to be yeeted between departments at will) was meant to allow staff numbers to be trimmed from 340–380 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) staff to 284. Instead, staff numbers have actually grown to 373, or 31% higher than predicted.
Similarly, Finance Services has over double the number of staff they were expected to have following the restructure (53, rather than 24). The same trends appear in the Operational Finance, AskOtago and Student Experience divisions. Across the five largest divisions of the Department of Shared Services, 170 more staff were hired than originally planned, more than cancelling out the 160 job losses caused by the SSR.
The Uni’s Director of Human Resources, Kevin Seales, did not deny that units have grown, saying “significant change and continued growth of student numbers has resulted in a need for more staff to support this growth. The advent of a pandemic last year has also resulted in some changes too. It was always intended that the model would evolve and adapt in response to changing circumstances. This flexibility is one of the strengths of the model.” According to the Uni’s own figures, full-time equivalent student numbers have grown 0.68% since 2017, from 18,457 to 18,582.
Asked about whether staff needed to be fired in the first place, Seales said: “Changes were necessary because it involved a large restructure of the roles in the University. The changes were largely achieved through voluntary severance, rather than forced redundancies. All changes were managed in accordance with New Zealand legislation and the requirements set out in our employment agreements which are agreed with the Unions.”