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Government must step up and ensure Universities consult with staff and students as part of transition plan

16 November 2023

The Greens are urging the State Government to ensure the Universities of South Australia and Adelaide better engage with staff and students as part of the transition to a new institution, following the passage of the merger bill through the Lower House last night.

“Now that the Parliament has given the merger the green light, it is vital that the Universities improve their engagement with staff and students during the transition phase,” said Greens Education Spokesperson, Robert Simms MLC.

“The Greens moved an amendment that would have ensured that the Transition University Council actually comprised a majority of staff and students – giving these groups a key say in the direction of the new institution.”

“Having rejected the Greens’ amendments, it’s now over to the Government. They can’t simply outsource this task to the universities, it’s vital that the Government steps up and demands meaningful engagement.”

“Given all of the complexity and all of the risks, there is simply no way that this merger will succeed if the Government and universities continue to thumb their noses at the views staff and students. They need to have much more of a seat at the table.”

“I intend to move to revisit many of the Green amendments next year – following the conclusion of the Australian University’s Accord review, so there will be an opportunity for the Government to make amends and do the right thing.”

In July the NTEU released a survey that found that 95% of staff believed that they had not been appropriately consulted by the SA Government about the establishment of the new university.

The Greens moved 23 amendments to the bill including:

  • requiring the University to be an exemplary employer, offering secure, meaningful work to staff;
  • changing the composition of the new governing Council to boost diversity and ensure it comprises of a majority of staff and students;
  • requiring the new Council to have a Code of Conduct;
  • requiring Council meetings to be held in public;
  • mandating the publication of Council minutes and agendas;
  • mandating the disclosure of any external consultants;
  • giving the Remuneration Tribunal the power to set the salary of the Vice Chancellor;
  • prohibiting investments in defence or fossil fuels; and
  • requiring annual reports to include information on how many teaching hours are done by full time, part time, sessional and casual staff.

Only one, requiring a Code of Conduct for the University Council was successful.