Kudos for tackling the taboo research totem 2

March 4, 2010

The scale and implications of the changes under way in higher education do not seem to have fully registered with the academy. In many universities, the situation at the chalk face, or rather the PowerPoint, has deteriorated over the past year or so, with longer teaching hours (16-18 hours) and larger classes. As such conditions spread, it will become increasingly clear that the changes have serious implications for the sector.

What is going to happen is that a growing number of lecturers are going to find that they are academics in name only. If one considers that being an academic for most of us involves teaching, keeping up with other people's research and doing one's own, it is clear that the teaching commitments being imposed effectively preclude the last two. Not enough consideration is being given to this.

What we are seeing is the creation of a non-academic sector in higher education. This will be inhabited by staff, often casually employed, who will struggle to keep up with their teaching, marking and preparation. Such conditions inevitably will be accompanied by open-plan offices and, the ultimate insult, hot-desking.

John Newsinger, Professor of modern history, Bath Spa University.

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