71 professors express concerns about Massey’s science shake-up

Seventy-one Massey professors have appealed to the university’s chancellor over a controversial science shake-up that could cost dozens of jobs.

The letter to chancellor Michael Ahie represented about half of those employed full-time at Massey, and outside its senior leadership team, according to a report in the New Zealand Herald.

It stated that, after 90 years of “iconic science and innovation leadership”, the core strengths that made Massey a leading university would be removed with the proposed cuts.

It was sent shortly before the university this month finalised a wide-ranging overhaul of its science offerings.

The signatories included three professors emeriti  and more than 20 based outside the College of Sciences, working in business, health, humanities and social sciences.

The New Zealand Herald reported:

“The letter was in response to a recent discussion document that indicated more than a third of Massey science academics could go – equivalent to about 100 scientists across most disciplines – as part of restructures.

“The university has since opted to slash its science course offerings by nearly half – although few students are expected to be directly affected – and will review any staffing changes next year.”

The professors argued that research-led teaching would no longer be possible in core disciplines, and staff remaining to teach service courses would not be able to deliver the innovation needed to drive New Zealand forward.

“The proposed changes will greatly weaken Massey University, impact its international ranking, and the revenue and sustainability of the institution.”

The professors recommended that redundancies be deferred, that disruption to teaching and research be minimised, and that their concerns be relayed to Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas and the senior leadership team.

A Massey spokesperson was reported as saying the university was confident the changes would set the college on a “successful pathway” to the future.

It did not believe the changes, affecting just 0.7 per cent of incoming students to the university, would adversely affect revenue, global ranking or sustainability.

The university early this year signalled a need to cut spending by $18.1m a year, including slashing staff costs in the college by $11.7m.  The position had worsened since then, the New Zealand Herald reported.

Source:  New Zealand Herald

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