Media Release: A majority of staff at NZ universities revealed to be non-academics

Dr Michael Johnston
Dr James Kierstead
Dr Dennis Wesselbaum
Media Release
19 June, 2023

Wellington (Monday, 19 June 2023) – The New Zealand Initiative has revealed that Victoria and Otago Universities employ more non-academic than academic staff, a situation prevalent in all New Zealand universities for the past decade.
The findings, prepared by Drs. James Kierstead, Dennis Wesselbaum, and Michael Johnston, offer vital insights for university leaders amid imminent job cuts.
For instance, Victoria University had 1,110 academic and 1,245 non-academic staff last year, signifying non-academic staff made up approximately 53% of the total staff. Since 2015, Otago University has sustained a professional to academic staff ratio of 1.5 to 1.6:1.
Notably, non-academic staff numbers have surged at almost all universities, for example by 18% at Otago and 31% at Victoria since 2009, contrasting with 3% and 9% respective increases in academic staff.
New Zealand's universities also have a higher non-academic to academic staff ratio than most of their international counterparts.
The researchers aim to offer clarity in staffing numbers for informed decision-making during these challenging times.
Further details will be available in a comprehensive report by Drs. Kierstead and Johnston to be published next month.
The researchers are available for further comments and interviews.


To download the policy point click here, or for more information please visit the Initiative’s website at

Dr James Kierstead and Dr Michael Johnston are available for comment. To schedule an interview, please contact:

Dr James Kierstead
P: 022 371 5755

Dr Michael Johnston
P: 021 0227 3415

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