Jobs cut in de­sign school re­struc­ture

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By DANIELLE STREET

The dis­es­tab­lish­ment of 50 jobs at Unitec is part of the ‘‘scourge of ca­su­al­i­sa­tion’’ af­fect­ing the coun­try, the Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Union says.

A Unitec re­struc­ture will see the en­tire De­sign and Vis­ual Arts Depart­ment made redundant with staff be­ing given the op­tion to ap­ply for 17 new po­si­tions.

The ed­u­ca­tion provider says the de­ci­sion was based on in­de­pen­dent re­search with the cre­ative sec­tor.

The new struc­ture will con­sist of a smaller core of aca­demic staff with in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als brought in to teach within a range of spe­cial­ist ar­eas.

But Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Union na­tional pres­i­dent Les­ley Francey says there are con­cerns about the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion of­fered as a re­sult of the change.

‘‘This is an ex­am­ple of the scourge of ca­su­al­i­sa­tion that is spread­ing across New Zealand,’’ she says.

‘‘Ca­sual em­ploy­ees can come and go as they please and they don’t have any ded­i­ca­tion to the in­sti­tu­tion.

‘‘The Unitec Vis­ual Arts depart­ment has a huge rep­u­ta­tion. It’s among the best. So our thoughts are, if it’s not bro­ken why fix it? There seems to be no logic to it.’’

Unitec stu­dent pres­i­dent Ben Kevey says stu­dents are an­gry at the lack of con­sul­ta­tion ‘‘in a de­ci­sion that will af­fect qual­i­fi­ca­tions they have al­ready in­vested con­sid­er­able time and money into’’.

‘‘I al­ways felt that Unitec sup­ported the no­tion that you’re in charge of your own ed­u­ca­tion, but this sit­u­a­tion shows that that’s not the case for th­ese stu­dents.’’

A Unitec spokes­woman says there has been a mixed re­sponse from stu­dents. Man­age­ment will work through their con­cerns.

She says the goal of the re­struc­ture is to have stu­dents build strong links with peo­ple who are ac­tive in the in­dus­try.

‘‘Pro­gramme re­newals are com­mon through­out the sec­tor and are done to en­sure qual­i­fi­ca­tions are con­tin­u­ally be­ing re­freshed to re­flect changes in the in­dus­try.

‘‘Our fo­cus is get­ting a great job for ev­ery grad­u­ate whether they want a ca­reer as a self-em­ployed artist or a suc­cess­ful prac­ti­tioner within a busi­ness.’’

The De­sign­ers In­sti­tute of New Zealand sup­ports the shift.

‘‘Ed­u­ca­tion needs to change to stay rel­e­vant to our sec­tor now and in the fu­ture,’’ chief ex­ec­u­tive Cathy Veninga says.

The new op­er­at­ing model is set to be put in to place in the new year.

The union has re­quested an im­me­di­ate meet­ing with Unitec chief ex­ec­u­tive Rick Ede.

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