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Academic-casual-employment-2019-2020-Final-2023-03-28-V2-1.pdf (2.4 MB)

WHAT HAPPENED TO CASUAL ACADEMIC STAFF IN AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES IN 2020?

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posted on 2023-08-20, 23:58 authored by ELIZABETH BAREELIZABETH BARE, JANET BEARDJANET BEARD, Teresa TjiaTeresa Tjia

       

With the widespread onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in   2020, Australian universities anticipated a significant loss of students and   revenue and hence forecast the need for significant job reductions. Using   Higher Education Statistics (HES) data on student numbers and full-time   equivalent (FTE) staff by field of study, we   explored changes which occurred between 2019 and 2020, this data only   becoming publicly available in 2022.

Against expectations, and with the exception of the field   of study of Management and Commerce, nationally student numbers did not   decline, but increased marginally. Our interest lay in the impact of this on   casual academic staff employment in Australia’s public universities, noting   institutional strategies of having a flexible pool of casual staff to manage   fluctuations in student demand. While the HES data does not allow firm conclusions,   trends may become clearer with the release of the 2021 data. Nonetheless, it   appears that many universities reduced casual academic staff numbers and   marginally increased full and part time appointments. Overall, there were   fewer academic staff to teach a static or increased number of students.

What this exercise suggests is that irrespective of   student enrolments, some universities may have used the pandemic as an   opportunity for restructures and academic renewal. It also highlights the difficulties   that universities may experience in managing their academic workforce.

    

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