130 general and academic staff from community tertiary education providers,
polytechnics, universities, and wānanga pledged to get their communities
talking about the harm being done to staff and students by the current
rules in the tertiary education sector.
The TEU members were responding to the release of the State of the Public Tertiary Education Sector Survey.
The report is the third commissioned by the Tertiary Education Union. It highlights the symptoms of a tertiary education system increasingly under
pressure, and increasingly ill following years of mistreatment by
The symptoms of illness revealed by the survey include a decline in student
support services, increased pressures on staff to admit students into
courses and elevate grades to ensure they pass, and a decline in wellbeing
as staff deal with increased workload and work/life conflict.
Co-authors Sarah Proctor-Thomson and Charles Sedgwick spoke to the TEU
annual conference about the findings of the research, which was released on May 1.The survey of tutors, librarians, lecturers, technicians, administrators,
researchers, and all working in our tertiary education sector shows high
workloads, constrained staff voice, and declining wellbeing. The report
also shows decreasing student support services in some areas and the
difficulties general staff face when it comes to pay and progression.
“Together we must turn this around,” says TEU’s national industrial
officer, Irena Brorens.
“The TEU is sending out an SOS. And we need your help to get the research
discussed and to find ways forward.”
Change starts with critical conversations. That’s why the TEU is calling on
all those who value public tertiary education to make a pledge in support
of those working and studying in the tertiary education sector. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
to make your pledge and the TEU will send you copies of the State of the Public Tertiary Education Sector.
A crucial finding of the report was the lack of genuine consultation and
engagement of staff across the sector.
Michael Gilchrist, TEU National President, says “being ignored is a common
state in our tertiary education sector. The research shows that over 80% of
staff surveyed on the state of the public tertiary education sector felt
they are excluded from having influence at the level of council, in
restructuring, and at the level of institutional change.”
“This feeling of exclusion from decision-making pushes staff into taking
actions. An example is Whitireia and Weltec where they had to start a petition
to try and get a say in what’s going on.”