Fellowships down, not out (1 of 3)

July 7, 2011

David Richards is right to point to the proliferation of teaching fellowships as a blight on junior academics and academia alike ("Teaching fellowships do not benefit anyone", Letters, 30 June): however, his suggestion that all recent postgraduates should ignore such posts is unviable. The truth is that there will always be those willing to work for the lowest common denominator and our sector is no exception.

In addition, upon completion of their theses, the vast majority of PhD students are penniless and in desperate need of employment. After years of scrimping and saving, teaching fellowships are usually perceived as manna from heaven (or at least better than Richards' alternative - conducting research at home for free to secure long-term employment). The fundamental corrective to the teaching-fellowship trend can be made only by established academics who are in positions to influence such "investment bank" employment practices.

Paul Copeland, University of Manchester

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