Media Release: Scale of Casual Teaching a Wake-Up Call for Australian Universities
NTEU President, Jeannie Rea, today responded with unease over the latest available data extrapolating the scale of casual teaching at Australian universities. Collected directly from the university staff superannuation fund, UniSuper, the data indicates that there were more than 67,000 casual academic staff teaching at Australian universities in June 2010.
“Casualisation of the academic workforce is rampant in our sector and as yet, the data capturing the full extent of this trend is still emerging, largely due to the hard work of small teams of academics,” Ms Rea began.
“This should be a wake-up call for universities. The data indicates 60% of the academic workforce is casually employed, and that as much as 50% if not more of teaching conducted at universities is done by casual academic staff. This is not sustainable.”
Ms Rea considered that the scale of casualisation was a systemic issue, “The data tells us that Australian universities are running on expendable labour. This is not only counter-productive in terms of the professional development of staff. It fails to encourage loyalty to the profession, and if unchecked will deepen the oncoming academic workforce crisis.”
“Faced with the prospect of an endless cycle of insecure casual employment engaged on a semester by semester basis, many early career academics and researchers will leave the sector altogether for more secure and career structured employment. We will have another lost generation on our hands.”
Ms Rea concluded, “These 67,000 casuals are performing highly-skilled work at a cut price rate. NTEU has been arguing long and hard to achieve a more secure and rewarding working life for long term casual and early career academic staff. During the current enterprise bargaining round NTEU has pursued better pay and conditions. Whilst we have also started to make inroads to create more secure forms of employment through our Enterprise Agreements, it is clear that unless the sector takes this issue seriously and provides real career opportunities for the next generation of Australian academics, it will be facing a workforce crisis in the very near future. The sector will have only itself to blame.”
For further information and comment:
NTEU Policy and Research Officer Jen Tsen Kwok 0437 453 005
NTEU National President Jeannie Rea 0434 609 531
The link to The Australian's article on casual workforce numbers can be found here. The new figures stem from new research on UniSuper data conducted by Griffith University researcher Robyn May.
2nd level, Albert Coates Complex Mt Helen Campus
University of Ballarat
Phone: 03 5327 9163
Fax: 03 5327 9162
Branch Industrial Organiser