Long and short of job contracts

January 22, 1999

Fixed-term contracts demoralise staff. A far better way to cope with an uncertain financial future is to have a high-quality satisfied workforce that is loyal to you. Only then are you able to attract and maintain the best people in the field who will then help you attract further funding.

Universities are notorious for their inability to employ professional managers - they promote academics with no relevant qualifications who then take the easiest option for managing budgets and offer only fixed-term contracts as insurance against a possible reduction in funding. The sad thing is that this ensures a cut in future funding because your best people leave for a better employer and your rating goes down, to be followed by your anticipated funding cut.

Ali El-Ghorr, (on fixed-term contracts for 11 years, always renewed at the last moment), honours course manager, department of medical microbiology, University of Edinburgh Medical School

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