Natalia Albert's Blog

The Cuts at Victoria University of Wellington: A battle we cannot lose

As a resident of Wellington, a postgraduate student at Victoria University, and the Wellington Central Candidate for The Opportunities Party, I am deeply concerned and saddened about the recent cuts at Victoria University. The University's decision to drastically reduce its course offerings has serious implications for the broader educational landscape in New Zealand. It will impact everybody!

In a startling announcement last week, Victoria University declared it would eliminate 60 subjects from its curriculum, primarily in arts and humanities. Languages like Italian, German, Greek, and Latin were among the casualties, alongside Design Technology and Secondary School Teaching. Disciplines such as Geographical Information Systems, Tourism Management, Undergraduate Geophysics, and Physical Geography also found themselves on the chopping block. No words!

Further, the university declared a moratorium on new enrolments in 11 other subjects, including Anthropology, Classics, English, History, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Sociology, and Te Reo Māori, among others. The decision to pause enrolment in these subjects, especially Te Reo Māori and Politics, poses a real threat to our progress as a country. I can’t even start to imagine all the implications!

The justification given was a $33 million deficit that threatens the long-term financial stability of the university. While fiscal prudence is essential, we must question the strategy that involves significant cuts to the academic programme.

This move has sparked staunch opposition from students, staff, and academics alike. I want to stand in visible solidarity with these groups. The Victoria University Students' Association (VUWSA) launched a petition to urge the government to reverse these cuts. In addition, they've organized a series of protests, a testament to the prevailing sentiment against these reductions.

The Tertiary Education Union (TEU) echoes these sentiments. They argue that the tertiary education sector has suffered from chronic underfunding. Unfortunately, the government has refused to reverse the cuts. Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union joined Otago University Students’ Association and Victoria University Students association to publish an open letter to the TEC and government calling on them to save tertiary education in Aotearoa. Since its launch, some high-profile names have added their support, including former Prime Minister Helen Clark. A petition launched last week asking the Government to urgently provide universities the funds to stop impending job cuts has already reached 3,000 signatures.

Tumu Whakarae | National President Dr Julie Douglas says “it’s been fantastic to see the widespread support for our members and the work they do pour in. Students, staff and the wider public all agree – universities are critical to the success and prosperity of Aotearoa and the government must treat them accordingly. They simply cannot sit on the sidelines and watch as tertiary education shrinks away due to poor funding.”

The cuts at Victoria University serve as an urgent wake-up call, we need to get the settings right, be brave and creative, now! This is a battle we must not lose.