Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Letter to the Listener

This was published in this week's Listener.


Dear Sir,

I find it quite fitting that the same edition of the Listener which features Professor Stuart McCutcheon ( University of Auckland Vice Chancellor) as number 34 on the "Power List" also, on page 39, features a full page advertisement for Victoria University.

When Professor McCutcheon was appointed Victoria University Vice Chancellor, he was viewed as the "Knight in Shinning Armour", and, to his credit, he did turn the University's finances and enrolment figures around. However, one regrettable legacy of McCutcheon's reign at Victoria was escalating advertising expenditure, which in his last year increased by over $200,000 (about 25%). This was despite the fact that staff were pleading for a well deserved pay rise, the university facilities are under-resourced and dilapidated, and students faced a fee increase of 4.5%. This trend has been continued by Professor Pat Walsh, McCutcheon's successor.

As an academic institution, it's mildly ironic that Victoria University has failed to acknowledge the mountain of academic literature which states that such advertising is not having its desired outcomes. It's all very well for McCutcheon to secure an extra $57million, but it's worthless if it is wasted on advertising. For the sake of the sector, I hope that the new Minister for Tertiary Education puts an end to these ludicrous spending habits.

In the mean time, I can sleep easy in the knowledge that McCutcheon, who "alienated staff by opposing union pay demands" is piped at the post on the "Power List" by Andrew Little, General Secretary of New Zealand's largest trade union (and 1987 Victoria University Students' Association President).

It makes you think.

Jeremy Greenbrook

Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (inc)

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