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Survey Report Shows Tertiary Education At Breaking Point

“I think there is no hope for the university - that is why I have resigned. It will continue the descent in a self-destructive spiral. This was already happening pre Covid-19 - this has just accelerated the process.”


– A New Zealand Academic


Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union has released the third iteration of its ‘Tertiary Lives’ survey reports, looking at the impact of COVID-19 on those working in the tertiary education sector.

From 1,021 responses to this survey in April and May this year, including 615 from universities, 232 from polytechnics , 29 from Wānanga and 15 from other institutions; 85% expressed moderate to high and very high stress. And only 3% said stress was not relevant.

TEU Tumu Whakarae – Tina Smith says “this is not just an ordinary report on the effects of COVID-19 and COVID-19 generated policy. It is a story of the undoing of Aotearoa’s tertiary education system that preceded COVID-19.”

“The responses illustrate the impact on staff in the tertiary education sector of four processes – a major government restructuring of the ITP sector; persistent restructuring across the entire tertiary education sector due to funding inadequacy; the ills caused by a competitive environment; and the sector’s response to a pandemic. These four processes have intertwined to produce a troubled sector.”

“Workload demands, reduced staffing levels, and difficulty maintaining a satisfactory work life balance were listed as the major causes of stress in our sector. These are all caused by structural failings. But sadly only 3% of respondents felt management was taking high stress levels seriously.”

The data for the 2021 survey was gathered prior to the recent Delta outbreak.

The full report by Dr Charles Sedgwick can be downloaded here. Tina Smith’s full speech launching the survey report can be viewed here.

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