Student ratings prompt sackings

December 15, 2006

For the first time an Italian university has decided which lecturers to sack based on student evaluation.

After substantial cuts to funding in the 2007 budget, the engineering faculty of Bologna University has not renewed the contracts of eight of 113 fixed-term lecturers who were given low marks by students.

The move does not concern permanent academic staff, who are classed as civil servants with lifelong jobs and can't be sacked.

The proportion of contract lecturers is increasing, representing more than 30 per cent of staff in many departments. Bologna's students let it be known that they would love to see full-time academics included in the initiative to fire unsatisfactory lecturers.

Guido Masetti, dean of engineering, said: "We have tried to signal that someone good in their profession is not necessarily a good teacher."

Pier Ugo Calzolari, Bologna's rector, called it "a correct and courageous choice".

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