universities

Error message

  • Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Deprecated function: implode(): Passing glue string after array is deprecated. Swap the parameters in drupal_get_feeds() (line 394 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).

Sydney University strikes show how to fight back

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/06/2022 - 8:59pm in

University workers at Sydney University took three days of strike action in May, shutting down the campus and kicking off the national bargaining round for university workers represented by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU).

The union is demanding job security, including an end to forced redundancies, improved redeployment rights, improved conversion rights and new permanent jobs for casual workers. Workers want a real pay rise, sick pay and equal superannuation payments for casual staff, improved flexible work arrangements, and to redress racism and transphobia at work, including demands for enforceable targets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander jobs and annual leave for transgender staff undergoing gender transition.

The union is also fighting to force university management to withdraw their attacks on conditions, such as their attempt to abolish workload committees and end the right of academics to have research time allocations.

These strikes are also powered by anger at management’s behaviour over years. Their anxiety to maximise profits has led to an increasing reliance on repeat change proposals, which see workers sacked and workloads sky-rocketing. Simultaneously, wage theft has proliferated across the casual workforce, with managers acting to tighten new budget constraints.

After several years of crying poor and demanding further sacrifice, management posted an unprecedented $1 billion operating surplus for 2021. This was built on the overwork and underpayment of thousands of workers. While student numbers went up by 23 per cent in 2021, staff numbers went down by 4.5 per cent.

Strikes a success

The strikes have turned the political mood at the campus around. New and enthusiastic union members have been leafleting the gates every morning to build the strikes, as well as joining the strategic debates about recruiting, picketing, striking, or forcing an increase to the union’s pay claim. Over 150 new members joined the union in May alone.

The Sydney University Camperdown campus, which is so big it has its own postcode, was physically shut down for three days in May, which is a remarkable show of strength for the union. Workers, students and community supporters ran an unprecedented number of pickets for each of the three days, including pickets at the Conservatorium of Music and Business School.

Through rain and shine, we tried to stop every single person attempting to cross the picket line, explain the importance of our demands and why they should support our strike. Management were so concerned by the action, they even encouraged people to work from home and many buildings were closed to the public entirely.

Strengthening the strike campaign

Online work presented a new industrial hurdle for the union. Many classes on the strike days were simply held online and many workers chose to work from home. Some in the union have raised concerns that this negates the effectiveness of strike action. However, this downplays the wins obtained from the strikes and the political importance of controlling the physical space.

The union should claim the strikes themselves as an enormous tactical success. Following the strikes, management walked back some of their worst attacks on workload committees, diluted their attack on the right to research time and gave workers $1000 and an administrative pay rise of 2.1 per cent.

But having shut down the physical campus, the next challenge for the union will be to move to shut down the digital campus. There is only one way to do this reliably, and that is to recruit hundreds more union members, and make the case that strikes are the only way we can win dignity at work, decent conditions and quality education.

With none of the key bargaining issues close to resolution, strike action will be needed throughout the second semester. The task for union members is clear: we need leafleting, walk-throughs, organising and recruitment to make every strike more powerful than the last. The one thing management can’t ignore is a union growing in strength that refuses to stop.

National Coordination Needed

The successful strike action is a guide for what every branch should move towards, as the NTEU campaign spreads. The Western Sydney University branch struck for 24 hours in June, demanding 150 ongoing positions for casuals and a pay rise above the university’s 2 per cent offer. The University of Technology Sydney has also balloted for industrial action.

University workers across the industry should be coordinating strike and protest action. The issues branches are tackling are very similar across the country with pay, de-casualisation, and workloads arising as prominent demands. Additionally, the union must send a message to the Labor government that the federal October budget must prioritise funding for universities and reverse the Liberals’ attacks on the sector.

Coordination between branches will also be necessary to win the internal union debate for a real pay rise. The national executive requires NTEU branches to demand precisely 15 per cent pay rise over three years, though they can settle for less. With inflation predicted to reach 7 per cent by December, this approach risks binding workers to a real pay cut. The Sydney University and Australian National University branches want inflation plus 2.5 per cent a year to ensure a real pay rise. But if the national executive refuses to act, branches will have to coordinate nationally to force the change.

For university workers across the country, it’s time to get organised, spread the strikes, shut down campuses, and demand better funding. Sydney Uni’s successful action should be an inspiration.

By Dani Cotton

The post Sydney University strikes show how to fight back appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Strike shuts down Sydney Uni for 48 hours as staff and students fight together

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/05/2022 - 5:32pm in

A 48-hour strike saw Sydney University almost completely shut down on Wednesday and Thursday this week, after a meeting of over 300 members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) voted to strike.

“This is one of the best strikes we’ve had at the University of Sydney since I’ve been here,” NTEU NSW Secretary Damien Cahill, declared after the first day.

Hundreds of staff and students formed picket lines over the two days at over half a dozen entrances to the main campus – as well as, for the first time, at the separate Conservatorium of Music. Other unions also lent their support, including MUA members who joined picket lines and ran a BBQ on the second day of the strikie.

Despite the university’s claims that “most classes will proceed as normal”, the campus was deserted, as picket lines turned back staff, students, and cars from 7am each day. There were particularly strong contingents representing departments including Gender and Cultural Studies, Education, Philosophy, and Linguistics.

A “roaming picket” involving groups of students travelled across campus to the small number of classes that were still being held in person. The aim was to convince students that their tutors and lecturers were undermining efforts to improve the quality of their education, through a conscious decision to break the strike and cross picket lines. Some had forced their students to attend with threats of academic penalties.

Three classes were shut down with a number of staff abandoning them, and in another ten students decided to walk out.

Job cuts and wage theft

This success was the result of the tireless work of staff and students in the weeks leading up to the strike, with NTEU members leafleting at the gates every morning and over 80 motions passed in classes to support the strike.

The union’s ability to pull off a 48-hour strike as its first action in bargaining shows the depth of the anger among staff after two gruelling years since the pandemic began.

More than 40,000 university staff have been laid off nationwide as university administrations used COVID as an excuse to cut costs.

With many staff working from home and classes online, as well as the union leadership’s effort to agree to cuts to jobs and conditions through the Jobs Protection Framework, have all made organising resistance more difficult. It was only once the union at Sydney Uni began to take action through a protected action ballot that staff began to get more organised.

The strike also comes at an important time, just over a week out from the federal election.

As Damien Cahill told a rally during the strike, “The Coalition government has been waging war on universities ever since it was elected. In the latest budget, the government has projected an 8.5 per cent further cut to university funding over the forward estimates.”

University managements have drastically expanded casualisation and workloads and rely on massive wage theft through forcing staff to work unpaid hours.

Sydney University Vice-Chancellor Mark Scott was appointed on an enormous $982,800 pay packet last year, the same year 80 casual staff lodged a claim for $2 million in stolen wages. If this is representative of casuals across the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences wage theft could be as high as $64 million in this one faculty over six years.

“We are striking for job security, for an end to casualisation, for rights at work, for First Nations justice, for trans leave, for protection of the vital nexus between teaching and research so that teaching is done by knowledge creators,” NTEU Branch President Nick Riemer explained.

“We have a series of really ambitious claims about the creation of permanent jobs for long term casuals who have been working regular hours for years at this university who deserve respect for the essential work that they perform,” Finola Laughren, a casual staff member in Gender and Cultural Studies, said.

Casuals make up a shocking 52 per cent of the university’s staff. Including staff on fixed-term contracts, that percentage balloons to a total of 74 per cent of staff in insecure work.

The union is also demanding enforceable quotas for First Nations employment, and annual gender affirmation leave. This was the first strike in Australian history fighting for demands around transition leave.

Leading the way

This strike sets a very strong example for NTEU members at other universities across the country who are also entering bargaining.

Recent months have seen nurses and teachers, transport workers and aged care workers all take strike action. This is the kind of action that can help drive out Scott Morrison, win a real wage increase and turn back the university bosses’ casualisation agenda.

It will be strike action that can force any future Labor to actually deliver change and boost funding after 21 May. A fighting union movement is the key to tackling the rising cost of living.

Another strike at Sydney Uni is likely on 24 May, with the union meeting again next week to ratify the decision after a further report back from a bargaining meeting with the University. Riemer told strikers, “We will be back here, if we have to, on 24 May twice as strong, twice as loud, twice as determined”.

Key to the success of the next strike will be convincing more union members to engage in building activities such as daily leafleting sessions and recruiting their non-union colleagues to the NTEU. Reports are that ten new members are joining the union each week. This number can increase with active recruitment in the aftermath of the successful strike.

Member-led initiatives such as the Casuals Network, which meets weekly and attracts both professional and academic staff from across the university, must continue. In-person meetings such as these bring new people into activity, build confidence and create a sense of unity among the workforce while also strengthening member-led strike organisation.

Building on the success of this week and stepping up the strike action is the way to win.

By Angus Dermody

The post Strike shuts down Sydney Uni for 48 hours as staff and students fight together appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Liberals hide behind COVID to force further cuts and marketisation of universities

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/04/2022 - 11:15am in

It’s widely known that Australian higher education funding has been hit hard by COVID-19. Less well understood is that under the cover of the crisis the government has been decisively restructuring university funding.

The “Job-ready Graduates Package” that passed in October 2020 not only cut government funding but introduced new mechanisms to force universities into increased levels of dependence on corporate funding.

The result was confirmed in last week’s federal budget, with overall university funding down 5.4 per cent next year in real terms, and another 3.6 per cent the two years after.

The border closures that governments enacted in the face of COVID had deep implications for the higher education systems of countries that rely on international student fees such as Australia, the UK, the US and Canada.

This was especially the case in Australia, which had the most immediate and total border closures, and the highest proportion of international students globally. Twenty per cent of students at Australian universities come from overseas, and international student fees have become essential after 30 years of per-student government funding cuts.

However, while 68 per cent of OECD countries increased funding for universities in the face of this (and also in recognition of the costs of a rapid move to online learning) the Australian government consciously refused to provide any financial support.

Even while the government constructed an historic stimulus program representing 16 per cent of GDP, it excluded the university sector from relief, amending its JobKeeper wage subsidy three times to ensure that public universities were ineligible.

Then in October 2020 it introduced the “Job-ready Graduates Package” which included a 15 per cent cut in government funding for universities. Before COVID, higher education was Australia’s third biggest export market. This is not a sector that any government can simply overlook. Rather there has been a clear decision to allow the system to go into crisis to force a structural adjustment.

Vice-chancellors, both of universities that suffered deep funding cuts and those that remained in surplus, have responded with historic job cuts, with one in five university staff losing their jobs since the start of 2020.

Initially these were layoffs of casual staff—turning off the labour tap just as casualisation is designed to do. But in the last year the cuts have been to permanent staff.

Job-ready graduates’

The Job-ready Graduates Bill affirms the Liberals’ belief that, for working class students at least, university should be a conveyor belt into the capitalist economy and nothing more. It rests on the false idea that students are wasting tax-payer funds by studying humanities and the arts where there are no jobs.

In fact arts graduates have a higher rate of postgraduate employment than science graduates studying in “priority areas”.

Even business groups opposed the de-prioritisation of arts, arguing arts degrees promote the flexibility and communications skills industry wants in an increasingly precarious and automated economy.

But as we saw with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation debacle, culture war vendettas against university humanities departments remain close to the hearts of Liberal politicians.

Job-ready Graduates introduces price signals through fee increases and decreases to drive students into the government’s priority areas of study and out of others.

DOWN:

  • Those studying science, health, agriculture and maths will pay 62 per cent less for their degree than pre-2021 students.
  • Teaching, nursing, clinical psychology, English and languages students will pay 46 per cent less for their degree.

UP:

  • Students studying law and commerce face a 28 per cent price hike.
  • Humanities and most social science students will pay 113 per cent more to the point where they are paying 93 per cent of the costs of their degrees

This will leave students with considerable debts. Currently the average student debt is $20,000 but arts students will now pay $43,000 and the popular combined arts/law degree will cost $75,000.

While it might be cheaper for students to study nursing or teaching, it will be more expensive for universities to run these degrees. This may lead to fewer places in exactly the areas the government claims to want more graduates.

As nurses and teachers’ unions have said, if the government really wanted to ensure more graduate nurses and teachers, they should grant union demands for pay rises and improved conditions. This would do far more to attract workers into these crucial areas and retain those already there.

Humanities

The virtual de-funding of humanities is very acute in the Job-ready package. Previously fees roughly mirrored projected future earnings, with law students paying more for their degrees than arts students. Now students in humanities face a much larger student debt without any increase in their likely life-time earnings.

The government is attempting to steer working class students into professional degrees and away from some of the social justice content and critical thinking that social science and humanities departments still allow.

The children of the rich, of course, will continue to study humanities as they have always done, and as most of the parliamentarians who voted up this Bill themselves did.

But in families where no one has been to university before the increased costs are very likely to act as a deterrent. The deferral of fees under HECS-HELP may mask the real costs of study in the short term, but at the cost of long-term debts.

For women, who earn 22.8 per cent less over their lifetimes and make up two thirds of students in arts and social sciences, this debt burden will dominate their working lives.

Commercialisation of research

For decades now researchers have had to prove their connections to industry in order to have their work funded. But Scott Morrison wants to accelerate this.

The Liberals have waged a three-pronged offensive. First, they cut $1.4 billion from the Australian Research Council. Then they dismantled the existing research funding streams inside universities.

The Job-ready package prevents cross-subsidisation within universities so that earnings from student fees can no longer be used to fund research. Previously 30 per cent of research was funded through international student fees, and a further 10 per cent through domestic student fees.

In February this year they announced an entirely new $2 billion University Research Commercialisation Action Plan. This will fund research only in defence industries and government-priority manufacturing areas.

Announcing the plan, Morrison said: “We need to shift the focus from citations to commercial success … we need to develop a new breed of research entrepreneurs here in Australia so they can create the new products and new companies and most importantly, the new jobs.”

The Liberal government has used the COVID crisis to force universities to even more closely serve the needs of Australian corporations and the war machine. Students and staff must demand all these changes are reversed, and rekindle the fight for fully publicly funded, quality, accessible higher education for all.

The NTEU enterprise agreement campaigns kicking off around the country are a chance to start this fightback and raise the broad vision of education for human need.

The post Liberals hide behind COVID to force further cuts and marketisation of universities appeared first on Solidarity Online.

ISA Award

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/12/2021 - 12:33pm in

 

Just announced: I'm being given the International Sociological Association's Award for Excellence in Research and Practice. This award is given once every 4 years; it's a great honour. My thanks to the ISA! And to the many, many colleagues & friends I have worked with, over the years.

 

The social science I value is engaged in the world, it doesn't watch from a distance. It's empirical and utopian. It's willing to explore questions ranging from personal life to global empire. It doesn't flinch from issues of violence and power. But it also asks how new and better possibilities emerge.

 

As I argue in The Good University, intellectual work needs co-operation. I've been privileged to work with many people on problems that truly matter. Decoding the multiple forms of inequality, and building a postcolonial social science, are steps towards a just and sustainable world.

@font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;}@font-face {font-family:Calibri; panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:swiss; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536859905 -1073732485 9 0 511 0;}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0cm; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}.MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;}

Aussie Universities ‘Fail’ on Climate Change Risk

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 11/02/2015 - 9:49am in