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Doing More With Less – Emergency Measures Must Not Continue

Te Hautū Kahurangi | New Zealand Tertiary Education Union (TEU) has released a comprehensive report highlighting systemic issues for members in the tertiary education sector during Covid-19.

The report entitled Tertiary Lives | Covid-19 is the consolidation of a survey conducted by the TEU of its members during the pandemic. Over 800 respondents took part over five days, responding to a range of questions about their experiences since the COVID-19 crisis took hold.

The survey and associated report reveal how the rapid pivot in educational delivery during the crisis is affecting staff and shows the real impact of the pandemic. Specific issues include workloads, stress, leadership and extend to staff having difficulty getting the right technological support to do their jobs.

The survey responses show real concerns emerging in the midst of extreme change and disruption. TEU National President Michael Gilchrist says concerns range from the extra hours needed to work online, to growing concern that students aren’t getting the best out of their learning experience, to institutional leaders ignoring advice. Some respondents said that institutional leaders were failing even to ask what is happening in virtual classrooms.

Staff have proved their worth during this time. They have proved that they are the heart of tertiary institutions. But emergency remote teaching – along with emergency remote pastoral care, administrative support, technical support and so on - can’t just become the norm. Temporary solutions can’t become permanent. Institutional leaders must go back to staff and work with them to plan the next phase, especially as learners begin returning on site.

TEU has taken a proactive approach conducting and publishing this survey to ensure that the voices of academic, allied and professional staff are being heard.

Gilchrist says ”This survey highlights the concerns our members have that there are decisions being made that could have an impact on future employment conditions and job security. Results show us that there needs to be some recognition of the time, skill and energy that staff have put in and continue to put in.”

Given the scope of the survey results and report TEU is again calling on the Minister of Education to call a meeting with institutional leaders, government departments, student representatives, industry and employer representatives and the TEU to ensure what happens next meets the needs of all involved in the sector.

“A whole sector approach is the only way we can make sure all communities and employers have access to the education and training needed to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic” says Gilchrist

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