More than two hundred academic, professional and general staff have met at Curtin University to raise concerns about changes taking place at the university that are deemed by many staff to be threatening to the student learning experience at WA’s largest University.
During the meeting, the Vice President of Curtin’s Corporate Services, Ian Callahan and Director of Human Resources, Bill Ryan fielded questions from angry staff about the radical direction the University was taking in attempting to transform Curtin into a research institution.
In a meeting organised by the Curtin branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), the concerns of the staff were focused on the lack of personnel to cover the teaching load, the inadequate resources to supervise students undertaking higher degree research and the failure to consult staff on changes that will fundamentally affect their working lives.
With the academic year starting this week, the failure to address these issues was described by one leading academic as something that, “threatened Curtin’s ability to deliver a quality learning experience for both domestic and overseas students.”
In addition to academic staff beginning the semester without any clear understanding of who and what they would be teaching, the general staff were told to expect significant job losses and changes to work practices.
The NTEU believes that staff morale is being adversely affected by the uncertainty around jobs and roles, with front line staff doing their best to maintain services for students under trying circumstances. Despite this, when asked to supply clearer details, management were unable to provide any information beyond a broad appeal for trust, much to the disappointment of those present.
NTEU Curtin Branch President, Tony Snow, made particular reference to a prevailing unrest among staff in Australian universities at the increasing corporatisation of our institutions that saw profits prioritised over educational decisions.
“A trend has surfaced among university executives which places the need for dramatic cost saving measures on wage outcomes negotiated with the NTEU during the last round of enterprise bargaining.
“Curtin University has been running massive operating surpluses over a number of years now, and the generous wage and bonus schemes enjoyed by Curtin’s senior management group points to the hypocrisy of any claims Curtin is suffering financially,” he said.