Casuals took the pandemic jobs hit

“irrespective of student enrolments, some universities may have used the pandemic as an opportunity for restructures and academic renewal”

While they stress the data is not all in, Elizabeth Baré, Janet Beard and Teresa Tjia set out substantial pandemic job losses for casuals at the start of the pandemic*

Between June 2019 and June 2020, casual academic headcount at 37 public universities declined by 2407, 6 per cent of the 2019 workforce. In contrast, the continuing academic workforce grew, by 481, or just under 2.5 per cent.

For casual professional staff the hit was harder, with a headcount loss of 6578, 19 per cent of the 2019 total. Some 798 continuing workers also went, just 2 per cent of the 33 822 employed in ’19.

While reminding readers that the data is not yet complete and there are caveats for individual cases they also analyse movement by discipline groups and states to find overall;

* little difference between states, regardless of level of lockdown

* in almost all cases there were no university-wide management strategies for cutting casuals’ jobs

* “few universities appear to have adopted a staff retention policy irrespective of student numbers”

what this means: is no likely change to employment practise

“in some universities, patterns of casual academic employment are so engrained, which, coupled with the way that work is organised to support underlying academic reward systems, means that any changes to reduce casual employment (e.g. casual conversion clauses, limiting the incidence of repeated fixed term employment, or creation of a large number of small on-going jobs) will be difficult to effect and will probably fail.

*“What happened to casual academic staff in Australian public universities in 2020,” Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education,HERE