Uncounted army keeps campuses going

December 19, 1997

AN army of at least 40,000 part-time "teaching auxiliaries" keeps British higher education running but universities have no way of recording their contribution, according to new research.

Christopher Husbands, a reader in sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, told the Society for Research into Higher Education conference at Warwick University, sponsored by The THES, that perhaps nearly a third as many again of the total recorded number of academic staff were performing teaching duties of some sort. This did not include continuing education or Open University tutors.

Dr Husbands criticised the Dearing committee for "naively reproducing" data supplied by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Sir Ron's report states that in 1995/96 there were just 2,076 teaching-only part-time staff and a further 1,942 "casuals" in British higher education. Dr Husbands said the HESA coding criteria excluded a "vast army of personnel" that performs teaching duties.

Dr Husbands' calculations are based on figures in a survey by personnel officers of the number of part-time teachers in six categories including postgraduate students and others paid hourly, and research and teaching assistants.

As British higher education was likely to continue relying on part-time teachers, Dr Husbands said it was important for institutions to "maintain an adequate database on all such workers.

"Employment law trends are towards their incorporation into, and their treatment comparable to, full-time workers. Such pressures will force institutions into comprehensive monitoring."

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