Former head of Massey University’s nursing school Professor Annette Huntington was confirmed this week as acting head after former head Dr Mark Jones left the school last month.

Jones told Nursing Review that he decided to step aside as head of school as the proposed future approach for nursing education at Massey was “not in line with my sense of progress nor how change should be acquitted in a fair and reasoned manner”.

The departure of Jones – who was based at Massey’s Albany campus –  also follows five of Massey’s Wellington nursing school staff late last year taking up a voluntary redundancy offer made by the school, including former associate head of school Dr Jill Wilkinson.

Wilkinson left in December saying she was not comfortable with changes expected of the school which she believed were mainly cost and ideology driven and had resulted in the loss of very experienced clinical teaching staff in Wellington.

Massey released a press statement this week saying that Huntington, who had been head of nursing at Massey between 2008 and 2016 until Jones took up the role, was acting head while a search was conducted for a new head.  The statement said recruitment of replacement nursing school staff was going well including a new professor of nursing an associate professor of nursing, an associate professor of health sciences and two clinical lecturers.  Huntington said the first two appointments were based in Auckland and the remaining three in Wellington but, as a national school, senior staff had responsibilities and taught across all campuses.

She also said that the school had made a strong start to the year with an increase in undergraduate enrolments overall up from 202 last year to 210 this year.  She said postgraduate enrolments were also projected to be up on last year following mid-year entry.

“The School will continue to revise its qualifications in order to ensure the best possible use of teaching staff resources and technologies that provide high-quality, accessible, contemporary programmes designed to provide an excellent student experience. Students, staff and external stakeholders will continue to be consulted about any proposed changes.”

Wilkinson said the changes leading to her departure last year included a greater emphasis on online learning and more staff being employed on short-term contracts which had made her concerned about the impact on the current undergraduate cohort. She was now working as independent contractor and pursuing further study.

Jones said he was heartened to see that Massey had managed to attract decent student nurse numbers despite changes to programme delivery.  He said wished Professor Huntington and his former colleagues well as they sought to “maintain the quality and reputation of the school”.

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