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Professor Victoria Burbank, UWAASA Staff Writer and Senior Honorary Research Fellow, offers this thought-provoking piece to initiate debate about UWA now, and in the future.“A spectre is haunting the world in which academics exist. In recent decades, radical changes have taken place in this world, arising largely from a hegemonic neoliberal philosophy that attempts to turn universities from places of learning, where a well-educated citizenry might once have flourished, to barren institutions, where utility is the only value. These changes have been, and continuously are, undermining the conditions that make a creative academy and socially responsible university possible.” (Extract only)
UWAASA is the voice of academics at UWA. While we do not all have to agree on every topic, having a widely supported Academic Staff Association provides us with the unique ability to continually press for more meaningful and sincere consultation. Please comment here, contact a member of the Committee or email your thoughts and concerns about the process of change at UWA.
UWAASA is the voice of academics at UWA. While we do not all have to agree on every topic, having a widely supported Academic Staff Association provides us with the unique ability to continually press for more meaningful and sincere consultation.
This is an extract from a letter published in The Post in March 2016
In recent months, the Executive at The University of Western Australia has come under fire for some of their decisions and public behaviours. This was most striking in relation to the announcement made by the Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson, two weeks prior to Christmas (and, perhaps more importantly, prior to any of the consultation legally required by the Enterprise
Agreement with Academic staff) of their decision to make 300 staff members (200 professional staff and 100 academic staff) redundant. This is the so-called? ‘renewal project’.
- October 13, 2016 12:00 pmUWAASA AGM
“Based on UWA’s history, precedent, the value of its brand built up over more than a century, and recognition by universities around the world, it is essential that Arts be included in the name of the new college.”
“My question concerns the level of optimum subsidy to be paid from teaching to research in a University as outlined by the Vice Chancellor: My question, though, is what is the best level for this subsidy and how is this determined and monitored? To this end, what are the econometric indicia used by UWA to set this subsidy and what are the measures of its benefit and costs?”
The Vice-Chancellor responded quickly on behalf of both himself and Dr Chaney to the UWAASA Open Letter. Read the reply yourself here. Please either comment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or via the website.
The UWAASA Committee has written an open letter to the UWA Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, requesting further information about the Renewal Project. Prior to dispatch, the letter was circulated to as many academic staff as possible in a short time frame for signature. “We, the academic staff, are committed to the long-term success and viability of The University of Western Australia, to the communities it serves, and to its role as both a regional and international institution of note. The UWA Executive has put forward a proposal for the renewal of our university, but we know such a project can succeed only with the broad-based support and engagement of all staff.” Please download the letter.
Staff were invited to make submissions about Project Renewal. This is one such letter from a concerned academic. “The proposal for change focuses on three areas. An Academic Restructure, a Methodology for Evaluating Academic Roles, and Professional Services Delivery. I will focus my attention on the appended section entitled Methodology for Evaluating Academic Roles, then make some comments about the rationale for the Renewal Project, and finish with an alternative suggestion on how the savings could be achieved.” Please download to read in full.
Feedback to the Executive’s response to financial problems and to the Academic restructuring from a UWAASA Committee member
“I will address the issues of financial remedies and academic restructuring sequentially as I remain unclear about any “necessary” links between the two (but am open to being presented with evidence that will enlighten me). These are merely my thoughts on the issues as I do NOT believe that we have been given adequate information on which to make judgements on the general direction in which the Executive propose moving, let along substantive, well- argued suggestions for better responses”. Please download the full submission.
1. It is evident from the information meetings about the Renewal process and from UWA ASA and NTEU meetings about the process that there is a legitimacy crisis at UWA, which the Executive may perceive dimly or without clarity about its scope.
2. This statement may be dismissed as an opinion rather than a fact but there is one way of verifying which it is. The reality could be ascertained readily if the Executive uses online technology (which it has promoted in the teaching environment) to find out the extent of support amongst UWA staff for the Renewal proposals. All that is needed is for an online and anonymous referendum on the proposals to be held. The details of the question would need to be worked out cooperatively with UWA ASA for the referendum itself to have legitimacy. The results of the referendum would need to be reported to staff immediately, as for any credible democratic process.
The Dean of Courseworks response to UWAASA detailed concerns about the Assessment Policy – was it enough?
Is this response adequate?“Thank you for your email. I will be reporting to the Academic Council at the next meeting on December 3rd. We have made a number of changes to the assessment policy based on very helpful feedback from across the University including that from the UWA Academic Staff Association.”
The democratic governance of UWA is an important issue and all staff should be concerned to protect it if possible. No system is perfect but if we simply remain passive over such issues, either because we are fearful of consequences for speaking up, or because we are apathetic, we risk finding ourselves being placed into an organisational environment that we may not find is in our best interests.
If recent media reports are credible, there is a risk that academic and student representation on UWA’s Senate will be limited to appointed, not elected, members. The attached piece provides background to the history of staff and student representation on UWA’s Senate and argues it is important for all stakeholders that Senate should include a proportion of elected members.
Given I am an elected (by academic staff) member of Senate, perhaps my piece may bring to mind Mandy Rice-Davies’ immortal line “well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?” but I trust you will find my points persuasive. In any event, I would welcome your views.
Please contact UWAASA directly email@example.com for the full file.