Challenge for unions to defend academia

Posted By TEU on Feb 15, 2012 |

Academic unions are the best hope to reverse the spread of heavy-handed corporate style micro management, defend academic freedom, reinvigorate academic citizenship, and address the spread and poor working conditions of contingent teaching staff. That is a premise of a widely circulated article by TEU’s University of Auckland branch co-president Paul Taillon.

“If university senates have become marginalised and withered as an effective means of representing the views of staff, and vice-chancellors operate more as CEOs than as members of communities of scholars,” says Dr Taillon, “then unions, which are set up to engage with senior management, must take up the challenge of not just bargaining for decent wages and working conditions but also advocating for meaningful staff participation in university governance.”

Dr Taillon argues unions must also play a key role in revitalising academic citizenship.

“To flourish, academic citizenship needs space in the workplace, and unions are best placed to deliver it.”

Dr Taillon was responding to Education International’s higher education advisor David Robinson’s claim that privatisation and corporatisation are vandalising the public tertiary education. Dr Robinson will be visiting New Zealand in a fortnight’s time to give a series of public lectures in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.

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