Admin bumps up workload

October 24, 1997

LECTURERS have less time for their students because of significant increases in administrative workloads, according to a survey of new universities and higher education colleges.

About 400 out of the 500 respondents to the lecturer's job survey, commissioned by lecturers' union Natfhe, said that there had been an increase in administrative workloads over the past five years.

More than 180 reported a large increase. Much of it is due to the growth in the amount of time spent teaching. Just over half (53 per cent) said they had a bigger teaching load.

The Natfhe survey reveals that the workload has been caused by a rise in student numbers and modularisation of courses, exacerbating the fragmentation of the teaching. The net result is that lecturers have less time for each student.

Liz Allen, Natfhe's head of higher education, said: "Lecturers may be teaching more, but this is spread over more students. The popularity of modular courses also means that they must spend more time preparing and assessing different courses."

The telephone survey, by Crossbow Research, paints a picture of increased stress and demotivation among lecturers. It shows lecturers crying out for more administrative or secretarial support and a more supportive management ethos.

The survey shows that a fifth of the respondents said that their workloads had been imposed on them by managers, without consultation.

The heavier workloads have led to lecturers taking fewer holidays. Just under a third took half or less of their holiday entitlement of 35 days plus bank holidays and other holidays. Fixed-term contract lecturers took even less holiday, with 43 per cent taking half or less of their entitlement.

A majority of respondents, 53 per cent, felt they were under pressure to carry out research work counting towards the research assessment exercise. These lecturers said that they would prefer to do other forms of research and consultancy work. A third said that they had no time for any sort of research or scholarly activity.

Dr Allen said that the worsening conditions showed that there was a continued need for a nationally negotiated contract.

The survey shows that 83 per cent thought they would be worse off if their contracts were negotiated locally, although only a minority was happy with the current national contract.

Respondents said they would reject the type of open-ended contracts prevalent in old universities.

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