NTEU National Office
Posts tagged with advocate
I was very fortunate to be invited to attend and to present my research on academic casualisation in Australia at the 41st Annual Conference on Collective Bargaining in Higher Education, hosted by the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions (NCSCBHEP) at City University New York in April.
The NCSCBHEP is a joint labour and management centre focussed on the study and promotion of collective bargaining as a means for advancing the working conditions of staff in higher education in the US. The enormous diversity of higher education means that particularly for union representatives the opportunity to exchange ideas about developments in collective arrangements is extremely
The 2014 Abbott Debt and Hockey Deficit (ADHD) Budget has been the most unpopular in living memory. Usually, the shock-horror aspects of an austerity Budget are hosed down after a few weeks with a bit of smooth talking by the Government, but this Budget has so many destructive aspects buried in the detail or hidden from first sight, and has been so poorly ‘sold’ (with Ministers contradicting each other and getting stuff just plain wrong), that the unpopularity of the Budget has escalated, rather than subsided, over the past several weeks.
Much of this mounting disillusionment, if not anger, can be ascribed to the uncertainty about how much of the Budget will get through the Senate, anyway, so people are reluctant to accept the nasties that they might not have to. However, some of the unpopularity is due to greater access to Budget information and enhanced exchange of information, analysis and commentary – thanks to the
In a statement issued on 2 June, the NTEU condemned the 22 May military coup d’etat in Thailand and called for the immediate restoration of constitutional rule and for the release of all academics and students detained by the military junta.
As the union representing the staff of Australian universities, the NTEU is specifically concerned with the round-up of academics and students calling for democracy and civilian rule.
The statement continued to say:
‘NTEU, joins with other unions, NGOs and governments in calling upon the Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army to immediately release politicians, activists, journalists and academics who have been harassed and imprisoned following the military summons to cease any political criticism or face
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 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
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
Australia’s system of public higher education will come to end if Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott are successful in getting their proposed changes to higher education regulation and funding through both houses of Parliament. No longer will entry into a public university be determined on the basis of a student’s academic ability but on their ability to pay. In the new privatised higher education sector merit will no longer matter, money will.
Cuts to funding for CSPs
In a series of policies euphemistically referred to in the Budget papers under the broad heading of ‘expanding opportunity’, the Government will:
- Cut funding for Commonwealth supported places (CSPs) on average by 20%.
- Open up CSPs to non-university higher education providers, including for-profit providers, and
- Expand CSP funding to sub-bachelor higher education qualifications.
In aggregate, these measures are forecast to increase total CSP enrolments by 80,000 full time equivalent students, and save the Commonwealth in the order of $1.1 billion.
As Figure 1 shows, the cuts to Government funding vary considerably from discipline to discipline. While the average cut of 20% represents an average cut of $2,120 per CSP, funding for engineering, surveying and science will be cut by $4,717 per student (-28.1%). social studies by $,567 per student (-37.2%). On the other hand funding per mathematics and/or statistics student will increase by $2,458