'I know people doing supply teaching who make more money than I do'

December 24, 2004

Jairo Lugo, 36, is a postgraduate student and lecturer in journalism at Stirling University. He is a Venezuelan who worked as a journalist for 15 years in South America before making the switch to academia five years ago.

Mr Lugo said that he wanted to share his knowledge and experience with aspiring journalists. The other attraction was being able to research issues in more depth than he could as a reporter.

"Now my work gets read by a much smaller group of people, but it has much more of an impact because it still gets used and referred to years later," he explained.

While the red tape and paperwork of academe did not deter Mr Lugo, the pay almost did. "I was tempted to do a PGCE and go into teaching, because the salaries are much better.

"I know people doing supply teaching who make much more than I do, and you don't even have job security in universities any more."

Mr Lugo decided to move to Scotland because he felt some English universities were all but abandoning research.

"There are some universities that have virtually given up on research and simply graduate masses of students. But research is still valued in Scottish institutions," he said.

Bob Burden, 64, professor of applied educational psychology at Exeter University's School of Education, will retire next year. He is in no doubt as to why young academics are shunning careers in university education departments. "Nobody in their right mind would become a lecturer in education now if they are any good because they could get a lot more money by moving up within the school system.

"This Government has allowed salaries for people in schools of education to fall further behind those for teachers in schools."

Professor Burden, a former head of department, has a son some 30 years younger than him who is deputy head of a Devon secondary school. "He earns just about as much money as I do - it's crazy," he said.

Professor Burden believes teacher training has been undermined by the increasing emphasis on schools rather than universities and the failure to properly fund schools of education, which have become the poor relation in many institutions.

Exeter is cutting 30 academics from its school, and Professor Burden said that he was certain that more schools of education would close. "It's disastrous," he said.

Educational research was too narrowly defined by the research assessment exercise, Professor Burden said: "Scholarship isn't valued and producing textbooks for teachers isn't valued."

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