Aoraki staff suffering back-to-school blues

Posted By TEU on Feb 18, 2011 |

Tertiary Update Vol 14 No 4

Spare a thought for tutors and students at Aoraki Polytechnic where low morale and stress from restructuring means a number of staff have resigned, or are on sick leave, just as the teaching year begins.

TEU national president Sandra Grey says morale has been very low generally across Aoraki Polytechnic for at least the last year because of constant restructuring and redundancies.

The Timaru Herald reported this week that staff in the outdoor education department, where the four staff are currently on sick leave work, have felt particularly undervalued.

“The issue is broader than just the handful of people on sick leave becaue of worklace stress or those who have resigned,” said Dr Grey.

The Timaru Herald reports that the outdoor education programme leader had resigned in the latter half of last year.

In the last fortnight, two campus managers – in Dunedin and Christchurch – had also resigned.

Dr Grey says Aoraki staff are not alone in suffering stress due to constant restructuring. Last year there were over 50 major restructures or reviews in public tertiary institutions.

“Many institutions are returning to record numbers of students, but fewer staff to do the job and uncertainty about whose job might be next. It’s a direct result of government funding cuts and it is creating stress for both staff and students,” said Dr Grey.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Academics turn down 4 percent pay, want better education instead
  2. Union members vote again to end ITP MECA
  3. International students caught in PTE “hit and run”?
  4. Obama protects education from budget cuts

Other news

Education Minister Anne Tolley has announced that up to 4000 young people will be retained in education and skills training in the year ahead instead of dropping out of the system, as a result of the Youth Guarantee and wider government initiatives. She then explains that the government has provided funding for 2500 of those students but that polytechnics and PTEs will actually be teaching 2700 youth guarantee students – or 8 percent more than they have been funded to teach – Anne Tolley

Ten staff members at the Open Polytechnic, many long-serving, were made redundant yesterday following a review that also resulted in a large number of voluntary redundancies. TEU organiser Phil Dyhrberg is questioning how this happened when the Open Polytechnic received an increase in Student Achievement Component funding from the government of nearly half a million dollars this year.

The Court of Appeal has ruled disability workers must be paid the minimum wage for doing sleepover shifts, leaving question marks about where the extra money will come from. The court’s decision yesterday upheld an earlier Employment Court decision that ruled in favour of Idea Services support worker Phil Dickson, who argued he should be paid the hourly minimum wage while doing a sleepover shift – The Dominion Post

A bill to abolish compulsory membership of student associations has been delayed by Labour and Green Party MPs. In Parliament tonight they put up a raft of amendments to the Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill and it did not complete its committee stage before the 10pm adjournment. That means it won’t be ready for its final stage, the third reading, for about six weeks – NZPA

Senior academics at the University of Cambridge will rethink a proposal to create a large tuition fee waiver for poor students by slashing bursaries after the institution’s governing council heard arguments against the plan. They had recommended that the university charge the maximum £9,000 tuition fee in 2012-13 but alleviate the impact on poor students by offering them a discount of £3,000 a year. However, students were angry that the current maximum bursary of £3,400 would be cut by more than half, to £1,625, to fund the scheme. –Time Higher Education Supplement

David Hall, an internationally recognised expert in public service investment, privatisation, asset sales and public private partnerships, argues that public spending drives economic growth. David Hall’s expert summing up of the case for public spending is now on YouTube. It is essential viewing for anyone interested in the debate about privatisation and asset sales.

TEU Tertiary Update is published weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Tertiary Education Union and others. You can subscribe to Tertiary Update by emailor feed reader. Back issues are available on the TEU website. Direct inquiries should be made to Stephen Day.

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