The casualisation of teaching in Australian higher education has come to be problematised as a risk to the quality of teaching and learning. However, the potential and location of risk, and therefore what constitutes an appropriate institutional intervention, requires interrogation as universities comply with the various regulations that, on the one hand, legitimise further casualisation in the name of flexibility, and on the other, insist on institutional responsibilities in the performance of quality. Taking a critical approach to risk consciousness, this paper examines the way casualisation is produced through workplace reform and problematised as a danger to the student learning experience through the quality agenda in Australian higher education. By examining the tensions between the discourses of flexibility and quality, the authors argue that casualisation should not simply be understood as a problem with individual teaching expertise that can be overcome through formal training of the individual. The neoliberal political rationality that seeks to individuate responsibility and locate ‘risk’ in this way masks the broader systemic tensions within the culture of the university which the authors argue have increasingly profound consequences for the quality of university education. Arguing that professional learning and quality enhancement are the product of open collaborative and collegial social practice, the authors conclude that addressing casualisation only in terms of systematic teacher training is a politically expedient response to a highly complex political issue facing Australian universities. Drawing on professional learning literature, the authors argue for a shift in policy and practice within the university to recognise, value and integrate the expertise and potential quality contribution of casual teaching staff at a micro-level with a particular focus on the teaching team.
ANZSRC / FoR Code
130103 Higher Education, 130313 Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators