Jeannie Rea - NTEU - Precarious employment, productivity and performance


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Jeannie Rea delivered the presentation at 2014 Higher Education Summit.

The 2014 Higher Education Summit discussed the post reform tertiary sector, considering some of the key challenges posed to the Australian University at a time of political change and rapid innovation in service delivery. The discussion ranged from university structures, planning and strategy to governance, funding and innovation and excellence in teaching and learning and research.

For more information about the event, please visit:

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Jeannie Rea - NTEU - Precarious employment, productivity and performance

  1. 1. Jeannie Rea, National President, NTEU 12th Annual Higher Education Summit 20-21 May 2014, Adelaide PRECARIOUS EMPLOYMENT, PRODUCTIVITY AND PERFORMANCE
  2. 2. Only one in four (24%) new jobs at Australian universities since 2005 has been an ongoing or continuing job. Three out of four have been insecure
  3. 3. Note: 76% of total new insecure jobs are insecure
  4. 4. Changes over last decade Where are we now? What can or should we do now? UNPACKING PRECARIOUS EMPLOYMENT IN UNIVERSITIES
  5. 5. The composition of the academic workforce has changed significantly since 2005.
  6. 6. Only one in two staff employed at Australian universities have secure employment
  7. 7. Employment (in)security is very much a function of type of work
  8. 8. What are general /professional staff saying about their work and conditions Intensification Undervalued Turnover Precarious Outsourced Highly specialised Deskilling Surveillance CHANGING ROLES AND EXPECTATIONS
  9. 9. Casualisation of teaching Too little time with students Research specialisation Performance panic Taylorism of components of academic work They worry about the Future of the profession – the next generation Of their discipline Quality of teaching and research ACADEMIC STAFF ADD CONCERNS ABOUT
  10. 10. They are exploited and taken for granted Readily replaced and their knowledge and experience ignored They teach what others have written and/or left to develop course materials without direction They don’t get asked to course reviews – or even subject meetings They worry about their students and spend many unpaid hours with them CASUALLY EMPLOYED ACADEMICS SAY
  11. 11. They know a lot about what is going in universities The smartest and most ambitious are abandoning academia Casual teaching or short term contract research They are organising locally and internationally They do not accept their contingent and precarious work status They number over 60,000 people (Robyn May)
  12. 12. In new environment the gaze is upon L&T from Students paying more will be demanding Govt want to ensure their investment justified Employer/industry criticism of graduates’ work readiness Professional accrediting bodies worried about standards & adequate preparation Discipline leaders concerned about integrity courses and research training Next generation of academics skeptical of separation of teaching and research –especially with experience casual and short term contracts. FOCUS ON QUALITY OF LEARNING AND TEACHING
  13. 13. Too few in ongoing positions to maintain course advisory boards, external accreditation, journal reviewing and editing, conferences, courses committees, readers of colleagues and students drafts, postgraduate supervisors, mentors, school visit, media comment…….. Casual staff without disciplinary ties – nor collegial or university binds Expansion of ‘teaching only’ and increased status linking to scholarship not open to casuals BUT HIGH LEVELS OF PRECIARITY UNDERMINE ACADEMIC PROFESSION
  14. 14. Course writers not teaching, teachers not reviewing and evaluating Online tutoring even further alienated from core of course Online leakage from official learning platforms into social media – same with student evaluation Intellectual freedom -fearless advocates few and far between No time and space for experimentation – or short term projects, many in ‘third space’
  15. 15.  Try new things – experiment and pilot with existing staff  Do not assume the current staff are the problem  Don’t restructure to manage staff out- use the rules  Encourage participation in governance, management and leadership  Increase job security Decrease proportion of casual and contract staff  Will improve productivity  And student outcomes WHAT CAN OR SHOULD WE DO NOW?
  16. 16. Only one in two staff employed at Australian universities have secure employment
  17. 17. For further discussion: Contact  NOTE: All graphs by Paul Kniest, NTEU from DOE data