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  • Henry Broadbent

Students Aren’t the Only Ones Struggling

A Message of Solidarity to University Staff 


While staff at Victoria University reel from last year’s job cuts, Massey sees no respite. 

Last week the Massey University Academic Board released a report revealing that, just this year, an eye-watering 624 courses were cut—up from 114 in 2023. In total, this represents about 1/6th of all the courses at Massey. Academics and staff at Massey remain in the firing line—but no university in the motu is immune. 

In a press release last month Chris Whelan, Chief Executive of Universities New Zealand, detailed how 30% of university income (~$1.3 billion dollars) comes from funding for research—and how this funding has stagnated since 2018, with inflation at nearly 25%. This problem has dogged the sector across successive governments, and is not exclusive to research funding—in general, university funding has for years failed to match inflation, this despite a $128m boost from the then-Labour government last year. There is simply not enough money being allocated to universities.

The response of prior governments has been to largely cast massive job cuts as operational matters, and choose not to interfere. This is baffling. The cuts are an explicit response to a lack of inflationary adjustments. In an environment where there are novel challenges for our universities, the answer should not be less money, fewer jobs, and fewer courses.

This is a problem for staff, for students, and for Aotearoa as a whole—and one that shows no sign of letting up. Nicola Willis will deliver Budget 2024 at the end of this month. Let us hope she sees the light, and prioritises investment in universities. But don’t hold your breath. 

In the meantime: check in on your lecturer. The staff at Vic put an enormous amount of work into getting our dumb asses through our degrees. In recent years, they’ve been doing so from an increasingly precarious, increasingly underpaid position, with their livelihoods actively threatened.

They are, like us, victims of neoliberal reform, a housing crisis, a cost of living crisis, and a newly callous government.

We, like all workers, have more in common with one another than with any government.

And though they might cajole you through The Waste Land, the history of labour reform, or the meaning of morphology from a lectern, they are in many ways in the trenches alongside us.

From Salient to all the staff at uni, we stand with you.

“Ki te kotahi te kākaho, ka whati; ki te kāpuia, e kore e whati” 

- Kingi Tūkāroto Matutaera Pōtatau Te Wherowhero Tāwhiao

Whakataukī provided by Ashleigh Putt-Fallows (she/her/ia)

Ngāti Whātua, Tūhoe, Ngāpuhi-Ngāti Hine


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