INDEPENDENT NEWS

Press Statement From Students Against Cuts

Published: Wed 31 May 2023 11:36 AM
Students against Cuts are holding a public emergency meeting on Friday the 2nd of June at 12pm at Victoria University, Kelburn campus to protest the proposed cuts to staff and programs at the University.
Students against cuts (SAC) is a coalition composed of students from the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association, Unions Wellington, Greens at Vic, VicLabour, Students for a Living Wage, VUW International Socialists, Bolshevik Club VUW, and Te Nuku Mauī. The coalition is in full support of the Tertiary Education Union and the staff they represent, and are calling on the government to increase funding to universities.
“Students and staff should not have to pay for the errors of the previous administration or fifteen years of chronic government underfunding of universities,” says SAC spokesperson Marcail Parkinson, “The government needs to face the consequences of funding universities below inflation, and pay the bill.”
Victoria University has proposed changes which would result in the loss of up to 260 full time equivalent staff with 59 courses currently under review. The courses, which range from physics and economics to art history and theatre, are all at risk of being discontinued.
Victoria University leadership has cited a forecast budget deficit of $33 million and 12.1% drop in enrolments for 2023 as the main reason behind these cuts. SAC, however, notes that the budgetary crisis is not isolated to this year. The universities’ debt crisis can be pinned on mistakes made by previous University administration and consistent underfunding by the government. The 5% increase to tuition subsidies in this year’s Labour government budget was touted as the largest increase seen by the sector in 20 years. This is not a victory but highlights the failure of current and previous governments to adequately fund universities. In the last decade per student funding has failed to keep up with rising costs, falling by 20% when compared to the CPI.
Parkinson noted that “Vic isn’t the only university facing this crisis, Otago and AUT have already announced proposed cuts to some of their core programmes with more announcements expected to be made at other major tertiary institutions in upcoming months. The Government needs to step in, or they could be facing a wholesale crisis across the tertiary sector. It takes a few brutal slashes to crush the tertiary sector, but it will take over a decade to rebuild that capability.”
“SAC is encouraging anyone willing to fight these cuts to attend our public meeting this Friday at noon, at the Hub on Kelburn campus. Students need to mobilise in support of staff, or many could be looking at doors closing on their chosen career paths.”

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