Just one in three university workers is in secure employment, with two-thirds either employed as casuals or for fixed terms. And these figures do not cover people working for organisations supplying services to universities, ranging from cleaning to teaching.
The figures come from four years of university reports to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and examined by the National Tertiary Education Union.
The union analysis reveals the University of Wollongong has the largest proportion of casual work on staff (64 per cent), followed by Edith Cowan U (63 per cent) and UTS (61 per cent). Universities which rely on casuals the least are ANU (24 per cent), UniSydney (23 per cent) and the University of Adelaide (11 per cent). However the union suggests the UniAdelaide figure may be due to classifying staff as casuals when they could be considered contract employees.
WGEA reports also reveal an increasing number of women working in higher education, growing from 57.7 per cent in 2013-14, to 58.3 per cent in 2016-17. While the overall proportion of women in permanent employment is the same, woman are underrepresented in management (46.8per cent) and professional posts (55 per cent) while making up a big majority in clerical and administrative jobs, (69.8 per cent). (WEGA uses “professional” more broadly than the common education practice of using it to distinguish general from academic workers).
“While your gender might not be important in determining whether you are employed as a casual, contractual or ongoing basis, it does appear to be important in terms of type of job because the lowest proportion of female employees were in managerial positions,” the union argues.