The Coast's ability to access quality higher education is at risk if our Uni academics don't get a fair pay rise.
That's the view of some staff from UON's Ourimbah campus, who are striking for 24 hours on Monday as a dispute with the Uni continues into a fifteenth month.
Learning Adviser and NTEU delegate Emma Joel says the pay and workloads local staff have been exposed to in the last few years is affecting their ability to deliver essential services and pathways to well-paying jobs.
She claims if things don't change, and with TAFE struggling, many locals may have to start travelling beyond the region to access these.
"A lot of Ourimbah students thrive because we provide enabling pathways to go to education if they're coming from a background where they might not think they can get to Uni," Ms Joel says.
"We also have a lot of mature-aged students that are coming who love the opportunity to study locally because they're established here - they have children here, they work here - and it enables them to retrain and develop their careers further," Ms Joel says, "So I think that's the real risk for us here on the Central Coast."
In addition to better pay, Ms Joel says the academics across all three UON campuses also want guarantees on job security.
"A lot of our members have been facing ongoing uncertainty for a number of years now - because we've had a number of ongoing restructures - about being made redundant and increased workloads because jobs aren't being backfilled."
It's understood some Coast students will also be participating in a protest rally in Newcastle CBD today.