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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 9. 1971

Sack The Vice-Chancellor

Sack The Vice-Chancellor

Two cartoons of the vice-chancellor

Cartoon of a fallen angel being eaten by a rat next to another angel blowing a trumpet

When a university is overcrowded, who are the first to be thrown overboard? The answer, as the University Administration has recently shown us, is the students. Maoris are the first to lose their jobs in a recession; Newtown or Porirua housewives cop the final punishment - the end of the line of price increases of an inflationary welfare economy; Gallery interviewers are the first to be forced to resign from the NZBC. The place Maoris have in the labour market, housewives in the affluent society and Gallery interviewers in the NZBC the student has in the university system. Is it time for an alliance?

Let's look at these four situations. Central to each is the system's insistence that it is serving exactly those people whom it most victimises. The housewife, alias the consumer, is supposed (according to the Stage One Economics textbooks) to be exercising 'consumer sovereignty' over the entire apparatus of supply and demand. In fact she is the one out of whose tattered bag the last inflated price of some half-bankrupt backyard kiwi factory is finally paid. The Maori, whose subsistence economy provided him with a guaranteed living until the pakeha arrived, was promised all the privileges of advanced pakeha society in return for selling out to Queen Victoria New Zealand's independence. (We became independent in 1836, but now never celebrate the date.) The Maori and Island Affairs Department demanded that the Maori integrate; what integration means is the dole. The NZBC is supposed to provide an exciting, independent and thought-provoking commentary on public affairs, and the interviewer an its public affairs programmes is acclaimed by the media as the apogee of the news system, the last champion of common sense against the politicians. In fact the NZBC's best known interviewers have all left under a cloud, The only documented account of the relations between the NZBC bureaucrats and the National cabinet remains Gordon Bick's The Compass File.

And so it is with students. They are told the university exists solely to educate them; and if this is not the purpose of the university one may well wonder what it is. But the first hint of financial stringency, of overcrowding, or the first caustic aphorism from a Minister of Finance, and university administrations everywhere discuss the curtailment of student numbers.

In all these apparantly very different case histories there are obvious common elements; the rhetoric, or if you prefer the ideology of capitalist democracy, must console the people who are always the refuse of the economic, communications of university systems with the illusion of power.

There is no limit to the injury a student who really believes he is being educated will endure from the university system. (Scrutinise carefully the tortured faces of your lecturers.) There is no limit to what an interviewer who genuinely believes he is doing a public service will suffer from the NZBC. (Look at the curious relationship between David Exel and the Minister of Defence.) There is no price a housewife who believes supermarkets are devised for her benefit will not pay. And have you ever seen a Maori accountant? Who makes the decision to dump the refuse from the system when it becomes too expensive to service any other way?

This article is not intended to investigate in depth the role of the weathervane of the University Council, Dr. I.D. Campbell, who backed the last student fight about admissions because the students might have won, but initiated the first move to cut student numbers once Dr. Culliford brought out his report (and Bill Logan was safely in Australia.) If Campbell wants to cut student numbers one can be sure they will be cut, but Campbell is not the real power - the Vicar of Bray should never be confused with the Cabinet he follows right or wrong. Muldoon's first misgivings about the University system were related to the numbers of students enrolled in Political Science at Victoria University, and if the funds for Victoria's expansion have now been cut by the University Grants Committee one can guess that what part of this decision did not result from the incompetence of Victoria's negotiators came from gentle leaks from the Treasury. As Bill Logan observed, last year's rumblings about admission were also accompanied at administration level by wry obeisances to the deity of Muldoon.

But there is more to this than the general rule that at the apex of every network of our plural society stands the National Government. As Eldridge Cleaver said, "The white man turned the white woman into a weak-minded, weak-bodied sexpot and placed her on a pedestal... the white man turned himself into the omnipotent administrator and established himself in the Front Office." This is as true of the university as anywhere else; the summit of an academic career is to become the administrator of a department (called a Professor,) a position virtually incompatible with a sustained direct role in either educating students or doing academic research. So little real interest in education exists among lecturers that you will persuade virtually none of them to renounce the goal of a chair, even if it means the final close of his academic work.

The invisible link between the professor-bureaucrat and government is the solidarity of administrators. No matter how bad another bureaucrat's decision may be, no other bureaucrat can afford to expose his comrade publicly for, were he to do so, his own power would be threatened when he too made a wrong decision. In a society like New Zealand's where the businessmen are so relatively weak they have always needed bureaucrats to defend them. The link between the University Boards and the big corporations which exists in Britain and the United States is replaced by the link between the University Council and the Public Service. (Kevin O'Brien considered the most reactionary Council member stands as the best example of the obviousness and danger of this hidden link.) The favourite Government tool here is the 'independent' advisory or statutory body, each of which must have its token academic, who can be made to 'respect' (without directly obeying) Ministerial directives, and absorbs the whole follow-my-leader Public Service quite unconsciously when he does not do so enthusiastically. Here the same principle of bureaucrat-businessman coalition applies to all the students' potential allies. The man who deprived the Maori of his land to place him at the mercy of a pakeha boss who refused to employ him was a bureaucrat. The man who rubber stamps every businessman's price increase and refuses to believe in payment for housework is a bureaucrat. The man who stops the people who create broadcasting programmes following the news is a bureaucrat, who cannot allow businessmen to be libelled.

Why has this not been said before? (and it has not.) Because every student who thought of the Public Service as a potential buyer of his devalued arts degree has been afraid to think of it. Because few people have thought bureaucracies dangerous. And because the real lesson of history is that if everybody cannot administer their own affairs, the bureaucrats will do it for them. The real solution to the problem of overcrowding in the universities is for an Association of University Teachers and the Student Representative Council to jointly take over administration and sack administrators whose only solution to difficulties is getting rid of students. Either the students take over from the administrators or the administrators get rid of students. Of course, for the students to win they'd have to do their own administration well. But then could it be done much worse.

This of course would be only a begining. Consumer control of prices, worker control of unions, Brian Edwards, Gordon Bick and Austin Mitchell running the NZBC. The possibilities are endless. And are they really Utopian? The only real Utopians are those who believe that students (or Maoris or housewives) will always do what the bureaucrats tell them.

page break

At its meeting on April 15th the Professorial Board received a memorandum from the Assistant Principal Dr S.G. Culliford: in it he argued the University Administration's case for its solution to the current accommodation crisis at this university - the stabilisation of enrolments.

Dr. Culliford summarised his memorandum as follows:
1.The University appears to have entered into an unforeseen and unprecedented period of growth which could mean a total of as many as 8000 students by 1974.
2.Growth to this extent has already placed major strains on almost all types of accommodation within the University and should it continue at the present rate without the urgent provision of further accommodation it is doubtful whether teaching could continue at the present level.
3.The building programme is lagging seriously behind and it would appear that no significant relief can be expected before the academic year of 1974.
4.Unless some steps are taken to bring the growth of the University into some relation with the building programme a deterioration in the quality of the University's work is inevitable.
5.The situation is now so serious that it is essential that the University as a whole should determine firmly what steps it should take to prevent further deterioration.
6.It would appear that the only practical step is the stabilising of enrolments at approximately their present level until facilities appropriate to larger numbers can be made available.


In June 1968 Victoria set out, in its quinquennial submissions, its expected enrolments for 1969 and the period 1970-1974. (These submissions form the basis on which the University Grants Committee allocates funds to Victoria.) The enrolment forecasts were derived from projections for the period 1967-1980 presented by the Minister of Education to Parliament.

Artwork of a person behind bars looking out at Victoria University

Year Forecast Actual
1968 5245 5133
1969 5455 5424
1970 5720 5808
1971 5925 (6300-6350)
1972 6110
1973 6350
The actual enrolment for 1971 has attained the figure forecast for 1973: instead of increasing at the expected rate of 15% between 1968 and 1971, enrolments are increasing at a rate of 24%, which could not in any way have been expected on the basis of the official forecasts. The simplest and immediate explanation is that the Government's official forecasts have been too low (applause). This applies equally for the total enrolments nationally:
Year Forecast Actual
1967 23,800 - 24,000 24,431
1968 25,100 - 25,500 26,794
1969 26,300 - 26,700 29,209

"Whatever may be the reasons, the University appears to have entered into a period of unprecedented and unforeseen increases in enrolment and a continuation of the present rate of growth could mean a total of about 8,000 students by 1974,"

Undergraduate unit enrolment.

A clearer indication of teaching and other pressures generated by enrolments, taking into account proportions of full-time and part-time students and the distribution of students among departments and faculties, is given by an anlysis of undergraduate unit enrolment.

(The following totals are derived from figures at the end of each enrolment period, and do not take into account changes in course or late enrolments.

They do, however, provide a useful indication of enrolment movements. In the table below Q represents the figures supplied in the Quinquennial Submissions; G the forecasts in line with the Grants Committee's practices; and A the actual enrolments.

Year Arts Law Science Commerce Misc. Total
1968 A 5997 1643 1838 2022 847 12347
1969 Q 6516 1810 2116 2310 749 13501
1969 G 6223 1728 2020 2206 715 12892
1969 A 6232 1800 1999 2150 546 12727
1970 Q 6703 1880 2310 2541 789 14223
1970 G 6414 1800 2210 2431 755 13610
1970 A 7141 2030 2244 2389 216 14020
1971 Q 6990 1980 2555 2828 821 15174
1971 G 6703 1898 2450 2712 787 14550
1971 A 7051 2075 2335 3094 90 14645

The decreasing figures in the Miscellaneous group represent mainly reading knowledge half-units for Arts and Science. (In 1969 the compulsory language requirement for a BA was dropped.)

The percentage increases in the number of undergraduate units taken in the main subject areas between 1968 and 1971 are as follows:
Arts Law Science Commerce
17.5 26.2 27.0 53.0

The overall increase in this group is 26.5%, against an (adjusted) forecast increase of 19.6%.)

"Growth to this extent has placed major strains on almost all types of accommodation within the University and should it continue at the present rate 'without the urgent provision of further accommodation it is doubtful whether teaching could continue at the present level."

With the onslaught of Muldoonism in 1967-68, these figures record a shift in emphasis towards units in economics and administration; although without a more substantial breakdown of faculty enrolment totals for full and part-time students, the effect on undergraduates of Muldoon's "education" policy can only be guessed at. Remarkably, as the memorandum observes without comment, the figures for unit enrolment are not in excess of expectation as are the total enrolments.

Space requirements.

Lecture and Seminar Rooms: An analysis prepared for the Universities conference of 1969 showed that in 1968, 19 lecture rooms were in use for regular classes for a total of 701 hours in the week, an average of 36.9 hours per week per room. For 1971 18 lecture rooms are in use for 753 hours, an average use of 41.8 hours. Twelve seminar rooms were in use in 1968 for a weekly total of 388 hours, an average of 32.3. In 1971 16 seminar rooms are in use for a total of 576 hours, an average of 36.

Although these figures take account neither of work in departmental seminar or quasi-seminar rooms or individual staff studies, they show a 22% increase in teaching hours since 1968 without a corresponding increase in the number of student places available.

It is impossible to say when saturation of classroom space will be reached. Some juggling of the timetable is still possible and some use can be made of an extended teaching day, but clearly this process cannot be continued without reducing the combinations of subjects students may reasonably expect to take, or reducing the teaching offered in these subjects.

Laboratories: In 1968 all laboratory departments in the science faculty except biochemistry were able to accept some increase in the number of undergraduate students, but graduate places were very short. Since then some undergraduate relief has been provided for Zoology and Botany, and further laboratory space created for Biochemistry; Geology has reached the limit of its capacity at advanced levels. As with classrooms, there are various ways in which the utilisation of undergraduate laboratories may be increased, but beyond a certain point major complications arise in the servicing of the laboratories and the setting up and preparation of experimental work.

A more immediate problem exists with graduate work at honours, masters and Ph.D. level where in all faculties growth in total graduate numbers has been comparable with that at undergraduate level. Research space generally, in all departments, is fully taken up and expansion can be achieved in default of extra building only by further over-crowding.

Library Space: The library provides a total of 1100 seats for readers of which 970 are available at desks for study purposes. The accepted (and UGC) standard of 1 seat for 4 students should provide 1580 scats. (Thus there is a shortage of 300-400 seats and carrels; book capacity will reach a maximum level by 1973.)

Staff Accommodation: In 1968 the University had a total establishment of 473 departmental staff (344 academic staff graded from professor to junior lecturer; 21 demonstrators; 52 technical and 56 secretarial staff.) By 1971 this had increased to 525 (384 academic, 19 [unclear: demo] secretarial staff.) Of these, the [unclear: un] all grades of staff in permanent [unclear: I] 270 in houses.

Thus 575 places are or can be [unclear: m] buildings excluding Robert [unclear: Stout] of Hunter and Rankine Brown. [unclear: C] services, administration and [unclear: assoc] total of 526 available for [unclear: depart] are used by research students [unclear: in] of 514. Of the 36 vacancies, [unclear: 18] which will require virtual [unclear: rebuild] condition.

As things stand, then, there [unclear: are] and all staff are housed. There [unclear: was] in departmental staff as at [unclear: February] portion of these will be [unclear: sufficient.]

Anyone who has recently been [unclear: to] will agree with Dr. Culliford [unclear: about] What they may not be so [unclear: willing] assumption that the present [unclear: univer] intact, because this assumption [unclear: un] the staff-student ratio must not [unclear: be] present level, if research and [unclear: acad] least) maintained; and since [unclear: more] housed for the university to [unclear: cont] in the staff/student ratio must [unclear: be] numbers. It would be [unclear: interesting] departmental staff/student ratios, [unclear: a] pressure. (The tone of the [unclear: whole] encompass the "total" university, solution, i.e. it predisposes the [unclear: ac] it would be interesting to [unclear: determ] been a deliberate policy by [unclear: unver] hiring of staff - whether our [unclear: pre] result of agreed policy or [unclear: random] student numbers.

The Building Programme.

The present building [unclear: programme]
(i)Kirk Extension, at [unclear: present]
(ii)Physics & Earth [unclear: Sciences,]
(iii)Von Zedlitz, in course of [unclear: p]
(iv)Second arts tower, [unclear: planning]
(v)Extra floor(s) on [unclear: Easterfield]

Kirk Extension: The completed [unclear: l] undergraduate labs, four staff [unclear: stu] areas. Some relief is afforded [unclear: Bo] to the university as a whole [unclear: will] is completed, hopefully for the [unclear: l] This will add two lecture [unclear: theatre] rooms: (One classroom, [unclear: capacity] 8000 volumes in a library, [unclear: but] space: adequate undergraduate [unclear: I] Zoology but only short-term [unclear: rel] complex, including the existing altered, will provide 38 staff [unclear: spa] provides 32 - a gain of 6.

Physic and Earth Sciences [unclear: Build] six months: it will provide - 3 [unclear: 1] 200, 200), 3 classrooms ([unclear: capacit] laboratory relief to Geology, [unclear: Ge] consequence of the shift from [unclear: th] to Chemistry and [unclear: Biochemistry:] departmental libraries, but no [unclear: sip] places: 80 non-science and [unclear: 106] of 186.

The building, if work begins [unclear: im] stages:
  • December 1973: geology [unclear: spac] staff [unclear: studie]
  • December 1975 : geography [unclear: sp]
  • December 1976: some [unclear: physics]
  • December 1977: remaining [unclear: ph]

Von Zedlitz: will provide: two [unclear: t] 4 classrooms (80), 14 seminar [unclear: re] classrooms will permit [unclear: conversion] Brown for library use, [unclear: although] to permit any significant [unclear: expanisi] staff studies and 21 secretarial [unclear: re] will be lost by the demolition [unclear: of] the building, the net gain is [unclear: 89.] and occupied in 1973, the [unclear: classes] page break [unclear: 2] technical and 60 [unclear: s] 305 places for [unclear: nd]relics on a further

[unclear: le] in houses and major [unclear: t], and the Library areas [unclear: are] occupied by welfare [unclear: utions], leaving a [unclear: poses]. A further 12 [unclear: y] annexe, leaving a total [unclear: inferior] properties [unclear: g] them up to reasonable

[unclear: ble] staff studies in sight [unclear: er], about 40 vacancies [unclear: and] the filling of only [unclear: up] the existing space.

[unclear: or] lab, or in the library, [unclear: of] accommodation, [unclear: over] is his (unstated) [unclear: should] be retained [unclear: main] argument - that [unclear: to] fall below its [unclear: ards] are to be (at [unclear: ot] be appointed and [unclear: owth], a deterioration [unclear: by] stabilising student [unclear: the] faculty and [unclear: ate] areas of marked [unclear: um] teems deliberately to [unclear: If] to a "total" [unclear: 's] case.) Similarly [unclear: e] has at any stage [unclear: istrators] towards the [unclear: student] ratio is the [unclear: ns] in academic and [unclear: struction] [unclear: n deferred]

[unclear: se] of planning.

[unclear: wing] provides four [unclear: storage] and preparation [unclear: Zoology], but no relief [unclear: led] until the main block [unclear: on].

[unclear: ity] 350,170) three seminar [unclear: ll] be lost). Storage for [unclear: cant] increase in reader [unclear: relief] to Botany and [unclear: earch] space: the whole [unclear: ding] which is to be [unclear: existing] building

[unclear: truction] has been deferred [unclear: eatres] (capacities 350, [unclear: seminar] rooms: [unclear: and] Physics, and, as a [unclear: field], immediate relief [unclear: nor] relief from enlarged [unclear: increase] of reader [unclear: staff] studies - a gain

[unclear: will] be completed in

[unclear: theatres], 20 non-science

[unclear: ion]-science studies.

[unclear: and] 37 non-science studies. [unclear: e].

[unclear: capacity] 350, 150), [unclear: 0] library places (the extra [unclear: ower] classrooms in Rankine [unclear: fer] of English is unlikely [unclear: rary] reading areas): 102 [unclear: hough] because 34 places [unclear: in] Kelburn Parade for [unclear: er] block could be completed [unclear: ek] by 1974.

Second arts tower will be similar to the Von Zedlitz building, but at present space schedules have not been drawn up; additions are likely to include: two theatres (capacity 300, 200), 10 seminar rooms: the transfer of the Commerce and Administration Faculty from two floors of the Rankine Brown could provide 500-600 additional library reader places. As 90 staff studies will be lost in the Rankine Brown to Library expansion, 25-30 through further demolition on Kelburn Parade, the net loss in staff study places will be 115-120. Thus any increase will be small. This could be available in 1975 provided Ramsey House was sold to the university.

Easterfield extension. Only one floor can be added, most of which will provide additional research space and is unlikely to have an effect on the space problems under consideration. It could be available for 1974.

Likelihood of this target being achieved. On all the University's experience of Grants Committee and Government procedures, the above dates are highly optimistic. The working drawings of Physics and Earth Sciences were in the hands of the Grants Committee in mid-1969, and the Government proposes to consider in July 1971 the request to call tenders. Space schedules for Von Zedlitz were submitted to the Grants Committee in June 1970. These did not reach Cabinet Works Committee until February 1971 and were deferred for two months. In the present circumstances it would appear sensible to add a minimum of one year to the completion dates (except for Kirk) set out above. This would mean that the first significant relief of any sort that could be expected would be in 1974.

The immediate building programme can be summarised as follows:
net gains in Staff studies theatres seminar rooms classrooms library place
Kirk extensions 6 1 3 - -
Physics and Earth Sciences 186 3 10 3 -
Von Zedlitz 89 2 14 4 150

The immediate future.

The memorandum considers possible ways in which the expected 800-1000 more students can be accommodated in existing facilities until 1974. It considers that a lengthening of the teaching day, or a reduction in the number of leaching hours per unit (such a reduction from 4 to 3 hours pet week for such units would result in a 20% reduction in the classroom usage), would inevitably lead in an impossible increase' in the use of the library, or an increased workload on individual staff members and more staff.

Four other alternatives considered were -
(i)to adopt a policy of sharing rooms wherever possible.
(ii)to accept the housing of staff in areas further removed from the University
(iii)to try a crash programme of prefabricated buildings.
(iv)to appoint no more staff.

None of these were found satisfactory.

Sharing of rooms was discounted because in most cases staff studies are too small for sharing. In other cases seminar and tutorial work carried on would have to be curtailed if sharing was introduced.

Prefabricated buildings were not favoured because of their permanence. In the past it was found that the University Grants Committee and Government were not as inclined to act once some measure of relief had been afforded by temporary demountables.

And in the case of staff limitations, if the present staff/student ratio were to be maintained this would require a limitation on student numbers as well.)


From the foregoing it would appear certain that unless some steps are taken to bring the growth of the University into some relation with the building programme a deterioration in the quality of the University's work is inevitable.

Some shifts or expedients may be adopted to solve in a temporary way the problem of staff accommodation, but the problem of library accommodation can only grow more acute as the building programme is further delayed.

The situation is now so serious that it is essential that the University as a whole should determine firmly what steps it should take to prevent further deterioration. It would appear that the only practical step is the stabilising of enrolments at approximately their present level until facilities appropriate to larger numbers can be made available.

The administrations case then, is simply this. Assuming that it is desirable both to maintain our university system and to prevent any deterioration in its research work or the staff/student ratio it follows that in the present situation University growth must be brought into line with the current building programme. And, as a temporary measure, a stabilising of enrolment levels seems appropriate until facilities suited to Larger numbers become available.

These assumptions are not, on their face value, warranted. Present degree structures, examinations, course contents and teaching methods are likely to be altered and provide some relief to accommodation. The ratio 384 staff (graded from professor to junior lecturer) to 6300 students (a ratio of 1:16) appears more than adequate. (Such a ratio does not take into account either demonstrators, tutors who are not full-time academics, or the lesser requirement of the large number of part-time students.) When last the administration spoke of "temporary measures" to ease accommodation, a set of exclusion regulations was introduced which is now an accepted part of student life.

The administration's solution to a crowded building is to remove the crowd. The student solution is immediate pressure on the University Grants Committee and Government for a complete reappraisal of Victoria's financial situation: with a view to a priority on the construction of the first stage of the Physics and Earth Sciences Building (more correctly called the Cotton Building) which provides lecture space, 20 (non-science) staff studies, and houses the Geology Department (thus easing space requirements in the Easterfield building; and on the construction of the Von Zedlitz building, which will provide theatre, classroom and seminar space, net staff accommodation of 89 studies and 150 new library places, as well as allowing the conversion of the whole of the Rankine Brown lower classroom floor to library use and the shifting of the English department to ease space problems within the library building itself. Such a programme, which would be ready for the 1974 academic session, would ease the accommodation problem by providing: 100 staff studies, 5 lecture theatres (capacities 350, 350, 200, 200, 150), 7 classrooms (capacity 80), 24 seminar rooms; relief to chemistry and Biochemistry departments by a relocation of Geology; and relief to the library by the relocation of English, the conversion of ground floor classrooms in the Rankine Brown to library use, and the provision of 150 new places in the Von Zedlitz building.