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USYD management forces staff to audit e-learning sites

The instruction came during the second day of semester, one of the busiest periods of the academic year.

University management instructed administrative staff to immediately audit all e-learning sites to ensure tutors were not evading in-person teaching in an email sent last Tuesday.

NTEU USyd Branch President and former lecturer Nicholas Riemer described the instructions as “punitive” and “disruptive”. 

“In the Arts faculty alone that’s 100s and 100s of sites […] this work fell on a very small number of already overworked people.”

“Meetings had to be missed, other priorities ignored,” Riemer said. “Not only were staff being prevented from doing their real work at a time of peak educational demand, they were being told to snoop into academics’ affairs.”

The email was prompted by suspicions from University management that online teaching had replaced what was meant to be face-to-face teaching for one course, according to Riemer. These suspicions were later disproved.

The audits come in the wake of a contentious last few years rampant with staff cuts, casualisation and wage theft by the University of Sydney.

“It shows a complete disrespect for professional staff… management think that non-teaching staff have so little to do that they can afford the time for this kind of destructive, unjustified and totally fruitless intervention,” said Riemer. 

The University announced it would return to on-campus learning in early February. On Wednesday this week, the VC announced that almost all COVID restrictions on campus would be eased, including QR check-ins and masks.