The Case of the Missing Casuals

Prompted as we were by the Universities Australia 2014 conference and its silence on the casualisation of university employment, we’re always on the lookout for other key sector conferences, strategic plans, initiatives, marketing materials, articles or announcements that continue with the airbrushing of casualisation from public view.

Our aim is constructive: we think this strategic thinking will work better and bring about more sustainable change if the people involved address the reality of who will be doing the work, including those who don’t work in ongoing or full-time positions in universities.  Otherwise, we’re just announcing the latest flights of unicorns.

And it’s a simple matter of respect to people on short-term and hourly-paid contracts that their experience and constraints are acknowledged in the ways that universities talk amongst themselves, and talk about themselves to government.

So if you notice examples of visions of the future of higher education that don’t reflect the impact of casualised work, post them in the comments here, and we’ll see if we can’t make it better together.



6 thoughts on “The Case of the Missing Casuals

  1. The Future of Learning Conference – http://www.informa.com.au/conferences/education-conference/the-future-of-learning-conference/agenda

    Lots of potential here for reframing session themes from the perspective of casual and sessional academics!

    Posted by Karina (@Acahacker) | March 3, 2014, 10:42 am
  2. It’s extraordinary that casuals are, as you say so aptly, ‘airbrushed’ out of view. We must remember that at most universities now, sessionals are the biggest group among academics employed and in many cases are, in fact, the majority of the teaching staff. As such, we are a valuable and powerful group who contribute immeasurably to the success and quality of our universities.

    Posted by Caron Eastgate Dann | March 8, 2014, 10:48 am
  3. And this one too http://www.edutech.net.au/agenda_higheredu.html (HT @KateMfD)

    Posted by Karina | April 8, 2014, 3:31 pm
  4. I attended a whole faculty meeting recently in which issues relating to my employment came up in conversations between more securely employed academic peers – with the assumption that there were no casuals present. I couldn’t hold back, I stood up and introduced myself, saying that as a casual academic I was there because I felt my presence was beneficial to myself and my students, in order to better understand the larger issues and the directions of the faculty/school. There was a brief response, something along the lines of ‘oh yes, true, but we can’t afford to pay sessionals to attend…’, and perhaps a whisper of ‘good on you for taking the initiative and attending unpaid’ – actually no, I imagined the second bit. There was a suggestion that one or two representative sessionals could be paid to attend (unfortunately I’ve not been approached). But what surprised me was how many people came up to me afterwards and said (off the record) ‘good on you for speaking up’ and ‘did you see their faces when you said that’?

    This makes me think about ‘the missing casuals’ and the reasons for their absence, let alone the audibility of their voices, or ever being able to come together ‘en masse’. It is not that I have nothing better to do with time than attend meetings for free, but through doing it, I do feel better informed, and try to take every opportunity to be heard as a sessional, representing the interests of other precarious employees – and who isn’t expected to be there. We may not be invited, nor paid, but I’m yet to be told that I should not or can not attend.

    (@amlev2 @tasasoced http://tasasociologyofeducation.wordpress.com/ )

    Posted by Annabelle Leve | December 10, 2014, 4:56 pm


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