I have to say, the admin staff where I am are brilliant! Sometimes emails go missing and I don't receive them, but they are always really apologetic and make sure that everything is sorted; if they make a mistake they always rectify it and they are so helpful. And they're friendly as well, one of them is like my 'mum' in the department! But then I think I'm very lucky where I am as well.
Same as Natassia and Bewildered: great department staff! In fact, every time I'm on campus and drop in, they make me feel at home. They even popped open a bottle of champagne after my viva because "another one of ours" had passed. Many of the dept. staff members are alumni, or studying part-time at the uni, so that may explain the sense of camaraderie and simpatico.
Some of the central staff are sometimes moody and impolite, but there's a back story: they're routinely treated unfairly by their "superiors", and I know that a few of them also have pretty difficult situations at home. I don't think they mean to take it out on students.
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From memory, contact was restricted to possibly dealing with the departmental secretary or accounting clerk - they were great and the departmental secretary became a personal friend of mine.
Apart from that, with the main University staff (equivalect of 'central' mentioned by Dalmation) they did their thing and you did yours and never the twain met. As long as you followed the way they did things, they left you well alone and the most you got was a grunt from them as you handed over paperwork to them for processing of purchases or paying off accounts, etc.. The problem was no one knew what what their way was and this might be changed on the whim of a senior office clerk (alledgedly a bit of a good looking girl - probably to another dragon) who I never met face to face. And you were expected to know.
It led to some classic confrontations, including a demand for my sacking from my first post-doc (serious and comical hissy fit) because a rep said he needed a photocopy of some paperwork so we could get some equipment repaired. My sin with this clerk was to photocopy said paperwork.
If I hadn't, the repair would not have been done and I'd have been in trouble for not getting the equipment repaired. Our departmental clerical staff placated the main University clerical staff without the senior academics ever knowing.
Everyone got roasted by the accounting gnomes at least once, so the above was pretty much par for the course (demanding someone's dismissal was pretty much like eating and breathing for the accounts people and they were pretty much ignored). If they were that obsessed, then a couple of hours for new PhD students and post-docs in a lecture room to explain how to process orders and bills would have been the way forward.
IT were the other ones to watch, however, when a PhD student sets up point-to-point file sharing on their PC and there are five thousand people (this has to be an exaggeration by the IT lads that) accessing the PC to download music, I guess they had every right to go nuts. The file sharing was slowing down network access for the whole of her department to a snail's pace. Unlike accounts, they could get people sacked or registration suspended if there was a serious abuse.
Tell that to the lecturing and research staff who were known to download pornography and were completely ignored. The story of one lad and how he got caught out is unfortuatley not repeatable on here (PM me for the story, anyone who wants to know - suffice to say I was told he should have washed his hands).
I'm sure there's stories that could be compiled into a good comedy book out there. :-)
The international student office is by far the worst run organisation in the whole of NZ!
My uni is split into 3 different campuses - Wellington, Auckland and Palmerston North, but the central admin is all done at Palmerston North. So even if I have to make a purchase order for basically ANYTHING it all goes down to Palmerston North and then approval gets sent back to Auckland. Nightmare and so frustratingly unnecessary.
As for the international office, I've never met such a rude, unobliging bunch of individuals. It's insane really, as by definition you're an international student so don't automatically know the systems in the country as it is, let alone a university system that's 12000 miles away from your previous one! Anyway that's my rant. Departmental staff are top notch though :)
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