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Casual Voices: Julie

Posted 22 June 2011 by Paul Clifton (NTEU National Office)

Late last year I applied for an ongoing position at a regional university where I have worked as a sessional tutor and lecturer almost continuously since 1993. I was the second ranked applicant, and was told the panel struggled to decide between me and the successful applicant, but finally decided - with great difficulty I was told - on the basis that the other applicant was "from elsewhere" and would bring "fresh new ideas" to the school. Clearly this was not one of the selection criteria. I have supported the career development and taught the courses of those who then decided that I have no "fresh new ideas" to offer. Needless to say, for all these year

s it is their material that I have been teaching, with very few opportunities to teach my own research and expertise. For all these years I have been adaptable, taught whatever I have been asked to teach, filled the gaps and picked up the scraps of work. Like other sessionals, I have felt that all my years of poverty and sacrifice and hard work would one day pay off with an ongoing position. I am not second rate - I am an excellent teacher, receive great student feedback every semester, have an excellent academic record and a PhD in a dynamic and very current area.

It is devastating to feel that more than twenty years of study and hard work has amounted to nothing, and that my years of dedicated sessional experience have been used as a reason NOT to employ me in an ongoing position.


Story submitted via the UniCasual Casual Voices page


  1. Margaret said on 19:16 Sunday 4 Aug, 2013

    [ 0 ] This is all so familiar. I have been demonstrating in lab classes and tutoring in science for over 12 years, part-time while a mature aged PhD student and now as the only work I can find (because I am a mature person and hence unemployable). I have never had an office, not even a shared one, I have no phone, or access to photocopying and printing, no sick leave, no holidays, and definitely no long service leave.

    Last semester I was working 30 hrs/week and being paid for 20 and this is not unusual. This semester my hours have been cut, because it is believed we can mark lab books while demonstrating in labs. The paid hours for this unit have dropped by about 50% compared to last year. This is just not sustainable but because most of the sessional teaching is done by postgraduate students who don't seem to realise they are being exploited no-one complains. Students pay higher fees for science courses because of the expense of lab classes but the number of labs per semester is dropping rapidly. I now teach in one science unit that has 2 labs and a one hour work work session per semester. (This is in a university that professes to be one of the top unis in the country and in the top 100 worldwide.)

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  2. Club member said on 13:20 Monday 13 Feb, 2012

    [ +2 ] I too have been affected by this very worrying trend. So far I've clocked up 7 years as a casual lecturer - also getting student feedback results that were above the averages for the area, the faculty and the university. Academics want me to teach their courses because I am good to work with, organised, hard working and help to improve the student feedback stats. I also applied for a permanent position at the end of last year, also came in second. So ok, maybe the other candidate could offer more/different/whatever, I can live with that. The worst of it was, I was overseas presenting a paper at a conference (funny, thought that was what I was supposed to be doing!) and only received three days notice (two days being the weekend) for the job interview. I couldn't make it back in time and couldn't contact anyone helpful over the weekend. Ended up doing the job interview on my mobile phone. Seven years of good service and they couldn't even do me the courtesy of delaying the interview a few days to allow me time to get back plus I have to pay the cost of the international roaming 'phone charges. Very, very disillusioned by it all.

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  3. teacher said on 12:48 Thursday 15 Dec, 2011

    [ +1 ] Welcome to the club - like you I was employed by the same uni to teach every semester and MUCH more, including work on a grant for free on the basis "it would improve my eligibility and look great on my resume". Then what did the uni do after 12 years? Offered a longer fixed term contract to a brand new grad with no honours but they had asked me first to do that job as a series of overlapping casual contracts.

    No fixed term contract for me with any benefits (which would really have helped with my own postgrad studies) but one for an inexperienced newbie.

    Then shortly after they welcomed back an old mate of the head of school who had been working for the private sector for nine years and didnt even have a masters.

    Was I devastated ?- just mildly yes. I left. Unis are disgraceful the way they use, abuse and discard casuals every semester. So much for their policies to support casuals. Words, empty words.

    Oh and they have even robbed my long service leave along the way by attempting to say that the end of semester breaks my continuity.

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