Staff at tertiary education institutions are experiencing higher levels of stress, unsustainable workloads and are feeling more alienated from their jobs compared to a decade ago according to the results of a survey published today by the Tertiary Education Union (TEU).
Nearly two thirds of the 1000 survey respondents said they have come under increased pressure to pass a higher percentage of students.
However, University of Auckland vice-chancellor Dr Stuart McCutcheon denied that universities are relaxing standards. Domestic students are entering with higher grade point averages than ten years ago, he told the Herald.
The TEU survey also found that support for improving staff well-being had worsened for 70 per cent of respondents. One-third of staff who took part in the survey say they no longer feel able to support student well-being. Staff stress levels have reportedly increased as well.
The TEU says the findings are a result of the Government’s tertiary education reforms, which have taken the focus away from staff and students and placed greater emphasis onto competition and profit.
The union fears that the recently introduced legislation (The Education (Tertiary Education and Other Matters) Amendment Bill) would extend the reforms that both the TEU and the Productivity Commission’s recent inquiry into tertiary education show are “failing staff and students”.
“Staff in the tertiary education sector are dedicated to their jobs and expect to work hard, but they should not have to sacrifice their well-being to the job,” says Sandra Grey, TEU national president. “I speak to far too many members who are exhausted from the constant stress and feel that they have no say in how their institutions are run.”
Grey says tertiary education staff need to be supported rather than “constantly struggling under the weight of impossible demands”.