Investigating the challenges faced by Short Learning Programme support staff at a selected tertiary institution
Van den Bergh, M.
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Universities are under rising pressure from the South African government to limit increasing tuition fees. Driven by external prospects for economic development as well as increased internal demands to generate more income, universities have been rapidly growing their association to become entrepreneurial. Higher education institutions are facing rapid change with successions of multifaceted changes. These changes are essential as a result of vast political, economic, technological and social changes in these applicable environments. These changes bring along new challenges for support staff, especially those who are working in the third-money income stream activities. This specific income stream does not have the same support structures as those from other money streams, but have to deliver according to the new drive to secure additional income. As a result, the support staff from third-money income stream experience and sense feelings of multiple levels of stress, insecurities, and uncertainty regarding their future in the institution. They struggle to understand the multiple changes and how they contribute to the values of the institution. Along with the multiple changes and new need to generate additional income, increased bureaucracy beyond their control leads to additional strain. The lack of a proper migration plan contributes to the anxiety of support staff that has elevated stress levels as result. With the demand to increase revenue, it is important that technological systems contribute positively to reach goals by means of effectiveness and efficiency. The current systems applied for third-money income stream are not adequate to address increased volumes and specific needs as per contractual agreements with external clients. Processes are to be streamlined to ensure faster turnaround time as this is the heart of delivering to clients. The workload for these support staff members has increased and has changed drastically. It is essential to provide autonomy to these sections as relying on departmental resources within the institutions proved to be a burden rather than a support. The objective of this study is to investigate the frustrations experienced by third-income stream support staff and to determine whether these elements contribute to stress and strain. The results of the study exposed that the support staff do experience stress-related strain, which could primarily be recognised in their work relationships, demands, role association, support and job characteristics, correspondingly. The levels of job insecurity were very high and the support from higher-ranking individuals very low. Analyses of different age groups and years in employment had no variable effect on the study.