An assistant professor at the University of Canberra claims to have faced threats and sexist comments when trying to call out excessive workloads placed on staff.
- Academic claims assistant professors stretched to limit
- When concerns were raised staff were “threatened”
- Union currently in dispute with the university over pay and conditions
Charlie (not their real name), who has been an academic with UC for several years, says within months of taking on an assistant professorship, extreme levels of work began piling up.
The lecturer and researcher was having to apply for research grants, develop an entire unit, and teach students at the same time.
“The workload is unsustainable. There are many times where I feel that I’m working two full-time loads in the teaching and the research,” Charlie said.
“I’m really burnt out. I’m very stressed.
“We’re maxed out to the absolute limit.”
Charlie attempted to raise concerns every semester, but said that speaking out to superiors could “backfire”.
“I have certainly been intimidated and I have been threatened, with comments for example about what I’m actually wearing,” Charlie said.
“I’ve been commented about the clothing that I’m wearing and that it was distracting.
“I have been commented that if I make things difficult, then I am going down a slippery slope and that’s dangerous and you don’t want to do that.”
Charlie took that advice as a threat to their job.
‘If you’re doing a good job, you get penalised’
UC and the National Tertiary Education Union are currently locked in a dispute over pay and conditions at the university.
Charlie said the university had a habit of giving more work to the most productive staff.
“If you’re doing a good job you almost get penalised because you get bombarded with more work, with less time to get that work done,” they said.
“They’ll pick on those who are … working really hard and doing the right thing and going above and beyond, and they’ll say ‘that’s fine — we’ll give it to her or him and they can get it done. Oh by the way, we need that done by the end of this week’.”
They said the university needed to improve the way it treated staff if it wanted to keep them.
“I know some colleagues of mine who have left the university because they weren’t able to sustain that workload,” Charlie said.
“I know that I can offer so much more. I’ve got so much that I can do but I’m not given the opportunity to excel and to demonstrate my true potential.
“I know that I have contributed a lot to the industry, the community, the students that I teach.”
The University of Canberra has been contacted for comment.