ANU staff feel increase in workload, drop in services after job cuts

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Staff at the Australian National University are feeling overworked and burnt out in the wake of deep job cuts across the institution. Under its COVID-19 recovery plan the ANU shed 467 permanent positions, but on top of this hundreds of fixed-term contracts ended and around 1000 casuals lost work. National Tertiary Education Union ANU branch president Simon Copland said staff were finding it difficult to access internal services because of the large number of people who had left through redundancies or vacant positions not being filled. In the School of Sociology within the Research School of Social Sciences, where Mr Copland is a PhD student and casual worker, people with major technology problems had waited weeks for a response to email queries and were increasingly receiving teaching contracts late. “We’re feeling it here. All administrative support has been centralised,” Mr Copland said. Fellow PhD students used to have an administration support staffer who could answer simple queries but now there was nobody to turn to, he said. Academic staff reported an increasing administrative workload as a result of the job cuts as well as an expectation courses would continue be delivered in person and online next year. Secretary of the NTEU’s ACT division Dr Cathy Day said online teaching added to staff workloads. “It’s double the work and no support. Academics are expected to keep up research as well as teaching and support,” she said. An entire corridor at the ANU’s National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, where Dr Day works as a research manager, has darkened rooms once occupied by professional support staff. “Every door is shut, the lights are off and their names have been removed from the door,” she said. “A junior staff member is doing the work that was formerly done by six people. Things just can’t get done.” READ MORE: Dr Day said there wouldn’t be an immediate impact on the university’s rankings but research output would suffer in the long term. An ANU spokesman said the university had clear and robust workload provisions in the enterprise agreement and any changes to workloads were in line with that agreement. “We have also improved service delivery across our campus to ensure workloads are manageable,” the spokesman said. “In addition, the university has surveyed staff to monitor workloads and wellbeing. “If anyone has concerns about their workload we want them to raise this with their supervisor or human resources. We are committed to ensuring the wellbeing of all our staff.” The spokesman did not confirm whether staff had been told to deliver courses online and in-person into the 2022 academic year. Mr Copland said he was not aware of the staff survey and that there was no clear plan from the university on how to manage escalating workloads, despite the enterprise agreement provisions. “People feel pressured, formally or informally, to do work beyond the scope of what they’re supposed to do. With all the job losses it’s increased manifold,” he said. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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Staff at the Australian National University are feeling overworked and burnt out in the wake of deep job cuts across the institution.

Under its COVID-19 recovery plan the ANU shed 467 permanent positions, but on top of this hundreds of fixed-term contracts ended and around 1000 casuals lost work.

National Tertiary Education Union ANU branch president Simon Copland said staff were finding it difficult to access internal services because of the large number of people who had left through redundancies or vacant positions not being filled.

In the School of Sociology within the Research School of Social Sciences, where Mr Copland is a PhD student and casual worker, people with major technology problems had waited weeks for a response to email queries and were increasingly receiving teaching contracts late.

“We’re feeling it here. All administrative support has been centralised,” Mr Copland said.

Fellow PhD students used to have an administration support staffer who could answer simple queries but now there was nobody to turn to, he said.

Academic staff reported an increasing administrative workload as a result of the job cuts as well as an expectation courses would continue be delivered in person and online next year.

Secretary of the NTEU’s ACT division Dr Cathy Day said online teaching added to staff workloads.

“It’s double the work and no support. Academics are expected to keep up research as well as teaching and support,” she said.

An entire corridor at the ANU’s National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, where Dr Day works as a research manager, has darkened rooms once occupied by professional support staff.

“Every door is shut, the lights are off and their names have been removed from the door,” she said.

“A junior staff member is doing the work that was formerly done by six people. Things just can’t get done.”

Dr Day said there wouldn’t be an immediate impact on the university’s rankings but research output would suffer in the long term.

An ANU spokesman said the university had clear and robust workload provisions in the enterprise agreement and any changes to workloads were in line with that agreement.

“We have also improved service delivery across our campus to ensure workloads are manageable,” the spokesman said.

“In addition, the university has surveyed staff to monitor workloads and wellbeing.

“If anyone has concerns about their workload we want them to raise this with their supervisor or human resources. We are committed to ensuring the wellbeing of all our staff.”

The spokesman did not confirm whether staff had been told to deliver courses online and in-person into the 2022 academic year.

Mr Copland said he was not aware of the staff survey and that there was no clear plan from the university on how to manage escalating workloads, despite the enterprise agreement provisions.

“People feel pressured, formally or informally, to do work beyond the scope of what they’re supposed to do. With all the job losses it’s increased manifold,” he said.

Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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Paul Wekem

Paul Wekem

Paul Wekem Ghanaian security specialist is well versed in managing and directing the implementation of security standards and policies including total integrated security solutions to optimize controls. He is proficient in the establishment and development of external relationships with stakeholders, negotiating and influencing at all levels

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