The University of Sydney’s recent internal survey has revealed worryingly low levels of staff confidence in the institution.
The annual survey was sent to all staff, in both professional and academic roles, and was completed by 5,875 staff members. The survey was intended to provide insight into how the University workforce viewed the culture, resource allocation and their workloads.
According to the report, 36% of all university staff, and only 27% of academic and casual staff, “have confidence in the University Executive”. Only half of all staff members believe that they are “appropriately involved” in decision-making pertaining to their work — a figure that drops to 37% for academic staff.
Throughout the survey, academic and casual staff repeatedly reported lower satisfaction when compared to professional staff. This comes after a historic strike campaign earlier this year, which saw NTEU members strike for nine days over the 21-months bargaining period — where the corporatisation of the University was repeatedly criticised on picket lines.
The majority of staff have indicated a lack of access to resources required to complete their teaching and research to a satisfactory standard. Only 21% and 29% of academic and casual staff, respectively, consider the University’s direction of resources effective and 56% of academic and casual staff say they don’t have “access to resources to do [their] research well”.
Earlier this year the University recorded an annual $298.5 million surplus in 2022. This surplus was the University’s largest in almost 20 years, excluding the $1.04 billion 2021 surplus.
Only 35% of academic staff believe that “the University of Sydney is in a position to really succeed over the next three years”, compared to 54% of professional staff. This trend was also seen in perceptions that “the right people are rewarded and recognised” by the University, with 40% of professional staff believing in that, and only 29% of academic staff supporting this statement.
Whilst management claims that this survey is used to redirect and change policies to better suit staff, only 31% of all staff, and 24% of academic staff, believe that the survey will result in any sort of action by university management.
NTEU Branch President Nick Riemer told Honi that “Confidence in the university’s leaders is simply absent. In a serious organisation, results like these would make it untenable for them to continue.”
Riemer said that the survey results “are nothing short of disastrous for the university management headed by Mark Scott and Annamarie Jagose.”
These results echo similar findings from a 2013 survey, which found that staff at the University of Sydney indicated significantly lower satisfaction rates than any of the other Group of Eight Universities.
A University of Sydney spokesperson said, “A key goal for our leadership is to build a high-trust, high-accountability culture at the University – and we regularly survey our staff precisely to help us identify areas of strength and where we need to make improvements.
“We’ll conduct a similar survey in May each year, and will continue to release the results to staff and commit to action to address issues raised.”