SRC Presidents Report – Week 3, Sem 1 2018

The semester has begun with a rocky start for casual staff at the university. The NTEU USyd Casuals Network Survey recorded that more than half of the current casual workers began their position this semester without a contract despite already teaching students. Of those, 44 percent are still yet to receive contacts and be paid for their work.

These staff members would be completely in their right to not teach for the first two weeks of semester, however, they are worried that doing so would impact negatively on the students’ experience as these first tutorials are vital in establishing relationships and a positive work dynamic.

Kurt Iveson, President of the USyd NTEU Branch, has contacted all NTEU members and USyd HR about the issue. “In failing to fix structural issues of casual employment, management failures are being displaced onto our most vulnerable and precarious staff” says Kurt. “It beggars belief that we would allow this to continue for a massive cohort of staff who are often the main point of contact for thousands of our students.”

This situation is unacceptable. If you are a casual staff member and are working without a contract (like many students at the University), please contact the NTEU at sydney@nteu.org.au about your situation. Students must stand alongside staff in their fight for better working conditions, so stay tuned for details of a public action that the NTEU will be holding THIS Thursday in support of casual staff!

On another note, within the Casework Department we have seen a spike in students experiencing issues around academic advice. We are feeling the impacts of the university restructure (which saw over 100 undergraduate degrees slashed) and the centralisation of faculty services (which saw mass firing of faculty administration).

There is often no correct identification of persons to receive advice, with different and sometimes incorrect responses being received. This is particularly the case with more complex decisions such as enrollment, transfers to new degrees, mid-year entry, and suspensions (particularly for international students) – with many of these issues interacting together.

This is all compounded by a loss of institutional knowledge from faculty offices. Advice and decisions require significant skill so, despite centralisation, decision making is often deferred back to faculties who have the power to make discretionary decisions. Without correct identification of where students or Faculty Services staff can access academic advice, we are seeing students fall through the cracks and the serious impacts it has on progression through their degree. This problem is not unmanageable, but it will require some institutional will and resources, and your SRC will be fighting alongside you to fix the sordid situation.

Feel free to email me at president@src.usyd.edu.au if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. If you are experiencing any academic, personal or legal issues and wish to seek the advice of an SRC caseworker or solicitor, contact us at 9660 5222 or help@src.usyd.edu.au.