TEU has released a second Tertiary Lives | COVID-19 survey report illustrating the need to stabilise the tertiary education sector. The sector is currently on shaky ground due to high workloads and underfunding.

The latest Tertiary Lives | COVID-19 Pulse survey report builds on the first report and confirms what union leaders are hearing from hundreds of members attending annual meetings across Aotearoa during September -  high-level change is needed immediately to support the wellbeing of all students and staff in the tertiary education sector.

Over the last few weeks institutional leaders have repeatedly warned that major course and job cuts may be coming due the drop in revenue from international students.

Report author Dr Charles Sedgwick says the second report highlights significant increases in stress levels, increased workloads and the constant possible threats to job security over the last few months.

Cost-cutting has gripped the sector with moves to stop new hires and filling of vacant position, and to end the employment of those on fixed term and casual agreements.

Now many employers are offering voluntary leaving packages, “selling jobs” that are needed and lacks any genuine consultation process plus other cost cutting strategies to undermine the workforce. Any loss of staff inside departments and institutions is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

TEU members in wānanga, polytechnics and universities across Aotearoa outline the systemic issues that threaten the wellbeing of those in the sector:

“People are being pushed beyond the limit. They are being coerced into extra teaching loads because of the 'budget', but with no recognition of the extra load this places on people”

“I believe that the restructure is being done to take advantage of COVID-19”.

TEU National Secretary Sandra Grey discusses the results of the survey stating:

“We know that tertiary education staff are at the frontline of Aotearoa’s COVID-19 recovery. Sadly, decades of inadequate funding, ever increasing workloads and threats of cuts at all levels mean that staff across Aotearoa are fearful, exhausted and worried that they have nothing extra to give their learners and communities!”

TEU is challenging decision makers and leaders to actively collaborate, to find new solutions for future recovery that puts the wellbeing of students, staff, community and iwi first.

“We’re asking leaders from across the sector and government to join us at a forum on November 17 to find a way to ensure jobs aren’t cut in response to the loss of international students and that we have the capacity to meet the needs of Aotearoa and its learners in the COVID-19 recovery.”

Media Contact: TEU National Secretary, Sandra Grey 021 844 176