The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) congratulates students who are due to commence their tertiary studies in the weeks ahead, and calls for stable university policies to give greater certainty about their futures.
Today’s release of the Selected Higher Education Statistics 2015 Staff Data shows the level of casual employment at Australian universities has reached an all-time high, representing 16.5 per cent of the full time equivalent university workforce in 2015, jumping from 16.2 per cent in 2014.
University student data, also released today, show a 3.1 per cent increase in students in the first half of 2015, compared to same period for 2014.
NTEU National President Jeannie Rea noted that concerns have been raised in recent days about declining 2016 entrance standards among some universities.
“What is urgently required is a period of ongoing policy stability, so the needs of students, and the staff who educate and support them can be adequately addressed,” said Rea.
“The government needs to dump its plans to deregulate university fees which would result in many students paying $100,000 or more for a degree, and institutions need to focus on providing students with the learning resources they need to successfully complete their studies.
“The latest staffing data show that in 2015 Australia’s universities employed at total of 123,414 full time equivalent (FTE) staff, an increase of 993 FTE positions or 0.8% compared to 2014.
“Clearly staffing is not keeping up with increased student load which means heavier workloads for an already highly over-burdened staff.”
The staffing data shows that two out of three of the new 993 FTE staffing positions created in 2015 were for casual employees.
“The 20,421 FTE casual staff translates into well over 100,000 individual casual employees working at our universities, a large proportion of whom are responsible for much of the undergraduate teaching at our universities,” said Rea.
“The vast majority of casual academics are highly qualified, experienced and dedicated, but the increasing reliance on staff without any security of employment will undermine the attractiveness of working at our universities, which will ultimately compromise the quality of the educational experience.
“Overcrowded classes, not enough time with staff, a casualised workforce, a lack of support staff, combined with ongoing student reliance on inadequate and difficult-to-obtain income support is all contributing to a worrying mix.”
Australian higher education does not deserve to go through another year like 2015 where both the government and our university vice chancellors showed a total disregard for the needs and wishes of the communities they serve.
Media comment, Jeannie Rea: 0434 609 531
Media queries, Andrew MacDonald, NTEU Media Officer: 0421 825 896