A valuable lesson

21 August 2013

The following letter to the editor was published by The Sydney Morning Herald on 21 August 2013:

The management of the University of Sydney is just as concerned as academics about ''building a secure future for our students'' (''Students ill served by tutors facing uncertain futures'', August 20).

Over the past decade we've reduced the proportion of casual academics from 24.7 percent in 2001 to 19.9 percent. The proportion of well-trained casual staff seeking a continuing academic position constitute less than 5 percent of our academic staff.

Our proposed enterprise agreement creates 80 new scholarly teaching fellowships and 40 new early career development fellowships, and provides more scope for casual staff to convert to more permanent roles. Our staff are the best paid university staff in the country and employee benefits consumed almost 59 percent, or $943.3 million, of our operating expenses last year.

The National Tertiary Education Union is demanding a salary increase well above community standards. We are determined to invest in our academic workforce, reduce casualisation of staff and produce the best graduates and pioneering research. The union wage demands threaten those efforts.

Professor Stephen Garton, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the University of Sydney