FUSA Student Council Respond to Proposed University Restructure

Student Council are unwilling to support the proposal of a University restructure when there is no evidence change is required. We call on the Vice-Chancellor to provide hard evidence or to be honest about the agenda he is pushing.

It is claimed current staff levels are inefficient and bureaucratic, yet the proposal tabled in the discussion paper fails to remove a layer of hierarchy. We believe the bureaucracy staff are so often frustrated by is a direct result of the management of Flinders University, including the third highest paid Vice-Chancellor in the country, Colin Stirling.

We are highly concerned that through the restructure, staffing levels will be reduced. Not only with academic positions on the line, but heavy reductions in professional staffing levels. Given this occurred at Colin Stirling’s previous University, we are sceptical around the true agenda being pushed. We call on Flinders management to rule out any reduction in staff levels.

A reduction in staffing levels will have an immediate impact on the quality of education at Flinders. Students are already frustrated over the work level strain on academics, impacting assignment feedback and consultative hours. This is a direct causality of the Vice-Chancellor’s inability to stand up for our public University and to call on the Federal Government for further funding to higher education. The cull in professional staff will see students struggle further with support for placements or practicums that are the cornerstone of many degrees, reducing job prospects for many students and damaging the long-term reputation of the University. We call on management to rule out any staff redundancies either academic or professional.

The University needs to seriously reconsider how it consults with students and staff. The inability to answer essential questions around the restructure reflects the way the institution views students and staff. Students at Flinders University have come to expect this of management, particularly after the Vice-Chancellor tried to bring Bjorn Lomborg to our University with little consideration of the many concerns raised. The restructure process has seen a tokenistic consultation period in which students and staff are failing to be heard.

More recently, we have seen the Vice-Chancellor continue to ignore the views of students and staff around University Council changes and flagship degrees. The debate around a restructure is founded on the fact that the Vice-Chancellor considers it to be appropriate for Flinders students to pay over $100,000 for their education.

The proposed college structure appears to be motivated by financial purposes. This goes against the notion that Universities are a public entity. This would further support the concept that this is being done for profit opposed to quality of education.

The quality of world class education standard at Flinders University cannot be achieved through firing staff. We should instead focus on supporting them as much as possible, so they are able to dedicate more time to research and improving student learning. We call on the University to address concerns around efficiency by beginning with senior management.

There is insufficient information provided to students to make an informed decision on the restructure, other than financial figures. Students at this institution are required to provide evidence of an argument whenever they submit a piece of assessment, yet we have a proposal on the table that deliberately lacks detail. This is symbolic of the Universities inability to engage in a genuine consultation.

We will not support any restructure until further information is provided around the intent, purpose and effect of the biggest change to Flinders’ structure in decades.

Written by Student Council President Caleb Pattinson. This response is endorsed and approved by Flinders University Student Council. Republished by Empire Times.

Original post can be found here.