Freedom of Information Requests: The Redacted Files

At the end of 2021 we initiated a dispute with management over the changes to academic research allocations (including the removal of T3s and the overall reductions in allocation due to budgetary constraints). This dispute remains live. As part of the dispute, we submitted an FOI application to see the justification made by Schools in their decision to cut research allocations.

According to the Workload Procedure, 

" 4.3.5 In uncertain or difficult budget situations, and as part of Faculty planning, Faculty Executives can present a case for consideration to the University’s Executive Group, for a temporary measure to revise research allocations for academics within the Faculty in a manner that is equitable and applicable across the Faculty. This is envisaged as a limited discretion to ensure that such action does not adversely impact the University’s progress towards its Research and Innovation Strategy and targets.

4.3.6 This temporary measure would not affect academic staff in the Faculty on the minimum research and scholarship allocation or on approved transition plans.

4.3.7 Decisions of the Faculty Executive about the maximum research workload allocation, along with reasons for the decision, will be communicated to each staff member through their respective workload manager.

4.3.8 Outcomes of the process will be made transparent within the Faculty. Any staff member who is dissatisfied by the outcome of the decision will be entitled to a review."

While most of the information in the FOI release has been redacted there are insights that can be surmised from this process. The first is that none of the schools made 'a case' as such, the only consideration presented was whether clause 4.3.6 was adhered to. Each school was clearly instructed to limit their casual budgets by reducing their research load. The onus on the faculties (or schools as they now are) to come up with a strategy to reduce their research load was clearly little more than a nod and a wink to section 4.3.5. 

We estimate that the measures (blanket cuts plus the removal of T3 publications) saved each school approximately 1.7 EFT (presumably assessed against the cost of hiring a casual to cover this time).


As part of this FOI application, we also requested the “Analysis of workload regarding T3 publications”. This was not provided as it was deemed to be an internal working document (section 30.1 of the FOI Act) and therefore its disclosure was deemed to be not in the public interest.

A further request relating to the problems with Workday and a report into its failings (including numerous incidents of both over and underpayment) was rejected on the same grounds.

Finally, we also requested the full results of the "OneSwinburne" survey from 2021. As you will remember this survey was conducted at the end of 2021, but results were delayed by several months. When these results were communicated to staff (around September 2022!) they omitted several questions, including that regarding Leadership. It is telling that over 50% of staff indicated in the survey that they did not have confidence in the University's executive group. 

You can see the released documents here.

We will be launching a mass campaign on University Governance in 2023. 


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