USyd’s staff cuts have already compromised Politics and International Relations students

After my breath rose from the stairs of the footbridge, I was thrilled that the stars had lined up enough for me to make my first class lecture: GOVT2901: Contemporary Issues in Politics and International Relations II. The unit is designed to develop problem-solving skills in a team setting, and is a core subject for students in the Politics and International Relations (PIR) stream.

Imagine the students’ displeasure, then, when the introduction slide identifying the weekly guest lecturers contained two blank periods. Dr. Jamie Roberts, our unit coordinator and sole educator, explained that due to staff reductions, there were no dedicated department experts left for our topics in Weeks 9 and 11. Roberts had already had to outsource a lecturer from the Australian National University (ANU) for his second week lecture on Indo-Pacific region. He also warned that the ninth week is likely to be canceled as the class falls on a public holiday, and that the eleventh week has been called “TBA (sigh)”. Dr. Roberts, like many surviving academics in the Department of Government and International Relations, struggles to provide a quality education due to staff reductions exceeding 40 percent of the department.

The effects of these cuts mean that overburdened academics, reduced elective options, and a deteriorating quality of teaching for students are now the norm. Dr. Roberts’ job was unconventionally divided “70:20:10” between teaching, administrative and research roles, yet he noted that it “seems to be [it adds up to] 120 “Because these responsibilities are overburdened; teaching and administration in particular. This pressure negatively affects academics’ personal and professional lives, and makes it difficult for them to deliver quality lessons or face tight delivery times.

Sophomore Politics and International Relations student Oliver Petkovitch explained that students who take GOVT2921: international relations mediator The last semester had a similar problem for those who took the GOVT2901, with no new content being introduced in weeks 11, 12 or 13 of the unit.

“During a tutorial, our teacher explained that we did not learn the subject of international law because they no longer had an expert to teach it. We ran out of content by week 10, and the teachers did their best to provide engaging lessons,” Petkovic said. Although GOVT2921 has consistently high enrollment rates, no one actually teaches the subject if expert academics are left behind.

Not only have the austerity measures hampered academics’ ability to teach courses with comprehensive content, they have actually reduced the selective, limited options in the third year. Courses that have not escaped the hands of greedy management include GOVT3655: latin american politicsAnd the GOVT3665: side Damage and the cost of conflictAnd the and GOVT3989: Divided societies, parliament and democracy.

Barely a week before the start of the semester last year, the selective module GOVT3986 was: Gender, security and human rights It was also canceled; Currently, it is only offered remotely. This last-minute cancellation caused major problems for students’ degree progression, as they scrambled to enroll in another course with limited availability to ensure they completed their degree on time.

Third year student Amita Singh expressed her frustration with the administrative burden on staff and lack of communication with students. She says she was “disappointed by the lack of the course and the lack of notice before starting university, such as [students] There are rarely units in government/international relations that focus primarily on women in politics.” Furthermore, students took Indigenous peoples, politics and politics TSI Tell honey That the current unit coordinator, while a knowledgeable academic, replaced a First Nations academic who was originally scheduled to take the course.

The experiences of these students and staff are an issue endemic to the priorities of the highly structured university management system. Frankly, given the university’s billion-dollar surplus this year, no one is buying the narrative that the university is a financial victim of ‘hard times’ due to the pandemic, that it cannot properly finance the Department of Government and International Relations (let alone other units in the College of Arts and Social Sciences and the university as a whole).

It is critical that students participate in the ongoing strike and advocacy, such as joining the picket ranks and the National Higher Education Union (NTEU), to reinforce the fact that staff working conditions are directly proportional to the quality of students’ education.

Another important way that students can show support for staff and advocate for better education is to fill out an end-of-term survey for each module when they appear in your emails later in the semester. Although it may sound tiring, the staff stresses that these student surveys are one of the few ways they can justify the course advantage to university management. Because the mechanics of change, its strength is shrouded in administrative ambiguity, it has been rebutted that students’ enjoyment of courses is the determining factor in staff deductions, or whether the topic as a whole continues or is abolished.

Although end-of-semester surveys are not a substitute for joining groups, building student movements together, or raising your voice at protests, these events are not within the reach of many students with disabilities or sensory sensitivities. Surveys are an important way each of us can make an effective contribution to our education. At the very least, we could all spend ten minutes giving positive feedback to our teachers and unit coordinators who spend unpaid hours providing the best education possible.