NTEU National Office
About a year ago, I wrote a post on my blog called ‘Academic assholes and the circle of niceness’. In it I asked ‘do academics get further in their career if they act like jerks?’ I wrote the post after reading The No Asshole Rule by Bob Sutton, which included research suggesting we tend to assume mean people are cleverer than nice people. My contention was, since cleverness is so valued in academia, it might be advantageous to be an asshole.
If this is true, people who play nice would tend to be under-valued, even pushed out, which, over the long term, would feed an increasingly nasty and unhappy workplace. I suggested one way to counter this problem was to consciously cultivate what my friend Rachael Pitt calls ‘the circle of niceness’. Inside a circle of niceness we know and trust that colleagues will be generous and supportive of each
We all knew what to expect from the Budget: a whole heap of pre-election assurances turn out to have been ‘non-core promises’, that outrageous phrase the Coalition introduced to politics. Tony Abbott famously explained his past barefaced lies to Kerry O’Brien by saying that only his written statements could be ‘taken as gospel’, so we should not have been surprised when his pre-election promises turned out to be dishonest.
It takes real chutzpah to look straight at the camera and give the sort of assurances Abbott gave before the election about education, health care, pensions and funding of the ABC. As Woody Allen said, ‘The most important things in politics are sincerity and integrity. Once you can fake those, you’ve got it
The Federal Budget contained a number of nasty surprises for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Cuts were expected, and pre-empted to a certain degree, but when the news came through that a total of $500 million had been cut from essential Indigenous services, the shock in the community was apparent.
In particular, equity measures within Indigenous education, health and legal services have been the hardest hit and there seems little opportunity for response. In short, we have a huge fight ahead in a hostile
The fine print of the Federal Government’s 2014 Budget has now been reviewed and it is clear that the ‘Budget burden’ is quite unevenly spread, with clear winners and losers emerging. However, while we are told that the ‘Budget pain’ is necessary in order to both repair and safeguard the economy, does it really do that? Or is the Government’s economic approach fundamentally flawed, paying heed more to the big end of town than Australia’s long term economic future?
First, it is important to see who wins and who loses in the
The NTEU has produced a fact sheet outlining the case against the government funding private, non-university higher education providers (NUHEPs).
The research was compiled in response to changes outlined in the 2014-15 Federal Budget, specifically the decision to extend funding for Commonwealth supported places (CSPs) to non-university public and private providers, including for-profit provides.
Fully contestable markets for the allocation of VET places have been a spectacular failure in Victoria, and the NTEU is concered that similar havoc would be wreaked on the higher education system more broadly should these policies be introduced
If any one aspect of Minister for Education Pyne’s plans for Australian higher education sends shivers down the collective spines of university staff, students and Vice-Chancellors, it is his proclamation that the United States higher education system is his inspiration.
Not surprisingly, the prospect of the Americanisation of our universities also horrifies the general public, as confirmed in the NTEU’s latest polling (see p. 22). People know about the American system from popular culture. Just think about the many plot lines that draw upon the millstone of student loans hanging over young (and not so young) professionals, tales of glorious but also terrible colleges, of the scramble to get into a decent college, abuse of scholarship systems, of university collusion with big pharma and the military industrial complex, of persecution of dissident academics, rip off for-profit outfits, bankrupt colleges and so
UK experience signposts Australia’s future
At the University & Colleges Union (UCU) we have been following recent events in Australia closely. Your government’s plans to increase student fees and to open up the sector to for-profit providers are depressingly familiar to staff and students in English higher education. On a more positive note, it has been fantastic to see the level of protests in Australia at the proposed fee changes and budget cuts!
The UK experience
What has been happening in England regarding fees, debt and the overall sustainability of the loan system? Since 2012-13 universities in England have been able to charge up to £9000 a year for new full-time undergraduates. As in Australia students don’t pay upfront fees but are required to take up a government-backed loan, which is paid back after graduation. Graduates must repay 9% of their gross income above a certain level of annual income (the current threshold is £25,000). Interest rates on loans vary from 0–3% above the inflation
How often do you hear NTEU representatives mumble ‘General – oh and/or Professional staff’? For our first two decades, the NTEU had two major sections of membership – academic and general. Academics are easily identified as members of that profession and classified as such. Two unions covering academic staff in universities and colleges were part of the original merger to form the NTEU. There were also three General Staff unions covering university and associated staff, and Victorian TAFE staff who were called PACCT staff. Over time, allied sections of other unions in universities joined us along with research and other allied institutions’ staff.
Describing staff who cover many occupations with many qualifications has become more complex. Universities are favouring the term ‘Professional’, but not everyone has a professional position. There is a ‘third space’ but this is of concern to academics particularly as there is more talk of ‘unbundling’ the academic role. We asked three leading General Staff members to