Indignity at work

September 14, 2017

Jedidiah Evans (“Wrung out and tossed out”, Opinion, 7 September) rightly alerts readers to the systemic issues of casual and part-time academic employment, issues that are not confined to Australia. There are institutions that provide tailored support for these staff (including my own), but these frequently depend on individual or departmental initiatives, and the gap between institutional statements and the lived experience of these staff can be depressingly wide.

My research with casual staff in UK universities highlights three main issues: the lack of dignity in constant and shifting negotiations about what casual staff are expected – and paid – to do, memorably summed up by one contributor as “going cap in hand for every nickel and dime”; a profound sense that they lack agency or voice; and limited access to professional development, to help them undertake their current work effectively and to help them prepare for future, more secure employment as an academic.

Fran Beaton
Director of graduate studies and chief examiner (taught programmes), Centre for the Study of Higher Education
University of Kent

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