To: Chancellors of Victoria's Public Universities
Fair Uni's for our future
NTEU (National Tertiary Education Union) members believe that the voice of staff must be heard when university decisions are made. This is never truer than at present. We have elected representatives that are passionate about being a voice for staff at the highest governance body at RMIT, Swinburne and all Victorian universities. The elected reps like all of us believe staff must be involved in shaping the course of our universities, institutions that we care deeply about and where we should be proud to work.
At a recent RMIT Council meeting the staff’s representative was unceremoniously told that they could not attend part of the Council meeting. They were not told why, other than the RMIT Chancellor suggesting a “conflict of interest.”
This staff representative is also an NTEU Branch President whose passion, commitment, and integrity has not wavered on colleague's’ and members’ behalf. To be excluded from a council meeting, without knowledge of the issue to be discussed appears to be a poor governance decision, however there’s more than governance at stake. As university managements increasingly seeing themselves running large multi-million corporations rather than public institutions whose function is to deliver quality teaching and research our future education is put more and more at risk.
We all must always have a voice where decisions are made as we are integral to the success of each and every Victorian university.
NTEU believes there is a worrying trend in university councils – it is not just limited to these events. We are seeing staff-elected council members targeted by management, ostracized by chancellors, or even sued – all attempts to silence staff voices. All this is happening while agendas and minutes are not available to university staff, let alone publicly available for all those involved in the university community to scrutinize. Despite the corporatization of the university sector, no company in Australia would be able to get away with this level of poor governance. But, as custodians of our venerable public institutions these chambers of secrets are able to do so.
Why is this important?
In the midst of the COVID crisis and its effects on universities’ finances and the pressures on many universities to cut jobs we can only hope that a broad public interest lens is applied to universities future rather than a simple cost reduction lens.
How it will be delivered
We will email the signatures to the Chancellors