I’m Robyn May and you might have read about my research in the Australian media recently. My PhD investigates the casualisation of academic employment in Australian universities. It was part of a larger ARC linkage project based at the department of Employment Relations and Human Resources at Griffith University, led by Professor Glenda Strachan.
My research included a large survey of casual academic staff at 19 universities and case study research at two different universities, interviewing casual academics, academics who manage casual staff and senior managers.
Prior to taking on the PhD I was working at the NTEU grappling with the complexities of organising and representing the large and diverse casual academic workforce. It struck me that the lack of good data on the casual academic workforce contributed significantly to a lot of misunderstandings and convenient blindness on the part of university managers about the issue. The PhD provided an opportunity to put some of those wrongs right, and to contribute to an evidence-based discussion about this significant and growing component of the university workforce.
I have also worked as a casual academic – tutoring and lecturing – and I know first-hand how challenging, isolating and frustrating this can be.
I’m really pleased to be part of this site, to be able to connect with casual academic colleagues and to contribute to a discussion about this issue which affects so many of us.
Thank you so much for joining us, Robyn. One of the things we really want to figure out here at CASA is how universities count and report casualisation right across the university workforce, and why — and then why we hear so little about casualisation in marketing or strategic planning.
There’s a secondary puzzle in Australia which relates to how reported casualisation data then gets media coverage (or doesn’t) which overall creates the impression of how things are in our sector. Often I think those of us who work as casuals or alongside casuals feel uncertain as to what’s actually happening, especially given that we know casualisation concentrates in some parts of university work and is much less visible in others.
So good to have a researcher in the house.