19 July 2023
The NTEU has welcomed the Universities Accord's focus on badly needed governance reform as an important first step in addressing the sector's crises, noting that insecure work and wage theft need urgent attention.
Education Minister Jason Clare today released the Universities Accord interim report.
NTEU National President Dr Alison Barnes said:
"Today we've seen the tireless efforts of grassroots NTEU members deliver some big wins - but there's a long way to go if we want to fix higher education," Dr Barnes said.
"The toxic legacy of the Jobs Ready Graduates funding mess also still needs to be addressed. The NTEU is advocating for university funding to be replaced with a fairer model.
“The report is scathing of the previous government’s Jobs Ready Graduate policy, which we opposed from the start and now must be overhauled.
“We welcome the canning of the unfair and inequitable Jobs Ready Graduate policy that sees students excluded from their course should they fail half their subjects.
"It's encouraging to see the government and the review panel making governance reform a priority.
"For too long, corporate appointments have sent universities' focus off course without the accountability needed to ensure our institutions are delivering for students and staff.
“We agree with the Minister that university employers need to be exemplary employers.
“In addition to pushing the onus for employment reform onto the states we believe there is still scope for the federal government to directly address insecure employment.
"Making changes to help universities to attract and retain staff must be centred on ending the insecure work crisis.
"With two thirds of university staff in casual or fixed-term employment, not tackling this is a massive risk for the future of higher education.
“We need to see major action on insecure work in the final report. So far we’re nowhere near addressing the deep crisis that has fuelled a $100 million wage theft explosion in universities.
“We welcome the announcement that the demand driven university places will be extended to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
“The NTEU has advocated for this as one of a number of changes needed to improve student equity, access and participation.
"It's also good to see our constructive policy to create a higher education future fund that funds improvements for staff and students while keeping money for a crisis remains on the table.
"We're looking forward to continuing our discussions with the panel and the government over the rest of the year, before the final report is due in December."
Contact: Matt Coughlan 0400 561 480 / [email protected]