Staff at Deakin University are reporting that they have been left to struggle with computer problems and dealing with such technology as video-conferencing following a restructure of information technology services, as the university begins to launch itself into the digital learning “cloud”, making IT knowledge and skills even more critical.
The National Tertiary Education Union says staff are reporting on a daily basis that IT support, including general professional development, consulting and advice, is “disappearing”.
According to NTEU Victorian division secretary Dr Colin Long, redundancies in the Knowledge Media Division, a unit that provides technology, media and graphic design support for staff across the university, are beginning to be felt in almost every area of the university.
Staff members are left to develop their own resources, without the technical knowledge, training to do so or troubleshooting support when something goes wrong. In some cases staff are even left to work out how to connect campus events by video-conference without any experience or expertise in doing this. It’s a task previously undertaken by university IT services,” he said.
The NTEU says so far Deakin has made redundant at least seven staff in Knowledge Media, three in Information Services and four in the Institute of Teaching and Learning.
Long said the redundancies and restructure is having “severe” roll-on effects for staff and students.
However, a spokesman for Deakin said “there is no wholesale redundancy program currently in train at Deakin” and that there are no current staff or NTEU disputes in any of the areas the NTEU has referred to in a statement released by the union. He said student needs were changing and a number of “isolated restructures are being undertaken in parts of the university to ensure that Deakin is resourced appropriately to meet the changing needs of students”.
As with any change, some adjustment is necessary for the groups of staff who are affected by the restructures.
He said Deakin has consulted with staff and the NTEU in each area which is undergoing restructure and, “where possible, has accommodated the feedback that has been received.