UMSU supports NTEU sit-in opposing staff Casualisation

On Wednesday 8 May,  the National Tertiary Education Union staged a sit in at Raymond Priestly Building regarding staff Casualisation and the quality of employment experienced by our increasing body of casual staff members.

The University of Melbourne has one of the highest rates of casualised staff of any of the Victorian universities. Casualisation means insecurity in employment, and effects the teaching standards at the University of Melbourne. Staff teaching conditions are student learning conditions, and we stand with the staff of the University of Melbourne in fighting for a better and fairer go at work.

The following Is a letter from the National Tertiary Education Union regarding this issue;

“Dear Students,

On Wednesday May 8th the casual teaching staff of the University of Melbourne, staged a sit-in at the front of the Chancellery Offices at the Raymond Priestley Building to highlight the hidden detrimental conditions of our work.

Casualisation and insecure work are rife at the University. Many of your lecturers, coordinators, tutors, and advisers are on short term contracts that have major implications in our careers and for our research. Casual staff provide as much as 70% of the teaching in some disciplines, and we perform a significant amount of teaching work for free. This is exploitation, and it affects your education.

We are often not paid for the actual time it takes to prepare your lectures and tutorials, administer classes, respond to your emails, hold student consultations, mark your assignments, and provide detailed feedback. The University forces casual staff members to make a choice: To do what is right by our students for free- or letting you down.

The University has failed to provide adequate office space and equipment for us to prepare your classes and mark your assignments. For some casual staff there is no space or equipment at all. We compete with students for space in University libraries, and in some departments, we are pitted against PhD researchers for space on hot-desks. We are done competing for space with undergraduates and our PhD colleagues and we stand in solidarity with them.

The University has also failed to provide adequate space for us to meet with you, our students. Many of us conduct student consultations and supervisions in corridors or cafes. We know this makes it harder for students to ask for guidance and support. You deserve the dignity of private and secure spaces to meet with your teachers to discuss your academic work.

Recently, University also made the decision to cut off our University emails between semesters, which means you will be unable to reach us to ask for references and letters of recommendation.

We’ve been pushing back to defend our work rights and have had some successes. Now, we are seeking substantial change. And we ask you to stand with us.


NTEU Casual and Sessional Staff Network at the University of Melbourne”


UMSU calls on these concerns to be addressed by university management.

UMSU stands in solidarity with the NTEU in this struggle, and calls on students to support casualised staff members at future demonstrations, and wherever possible.

Please contact myself, or the NTEU, for further information and how to get involved in the fight to stop casualisation.

Molly Willmott

UMSU President

In response to the announcement by the Government of its intended legislation against contract cheating, UMSU reiterates our opposition to any services which exploit students for profit or promote academic unfairness.

While UMSU welcomes strong action to curtail contract cheating mills, we also note that any legislative response does not abrogate the University’s obligation to students to address the factors which increase the appeal to students of using ghostwriters.

There are recurrent themes disclosed in both research and case work, indicating that there is much that Universities can do to make contract cheating less attractive to students. Rather than characterising students vulnerable to contract cheating services as simply lazy or dishonest, both research and advocacy casework indicate that many students turn to these options as a last resort due to a lack of social and academic support. Additionally there exist a number of services targeting vulnerable students by disguising their offerings as “study support” making it challenging for students to clearly distinguish a legitimate tutoring activity from something which crosses the line to cheating.

Further, students studying in a second language may be vulnerable as studying in a second language adds an extra challenge to any course of study. Consequently the University must ensure appropriate learning support is offered to second-language students so that they are competing on a level playing field with other students.

Similarly, poor assessment design is consistently cited in the research as a contributing factor in contract cheating. Casework data from the Advocacy Service indicates that recycling of assessment tasks from year to year remains prevalent in some faculties, for example.

UMSU believes that it is only through good pedagogy and assessment design, reversing the transactional character of the university by restoring an emphasis on learning and reflection, and providing proper integrated learning support with timely and meaningful feedback that the motivations for students to seek and use essay mills will be reduced.

Molly Willmott
UMSU President