Undervalued, not overqualified

December 21, 2007

The inconvenient truth omitted from your report on the rise of teaching-only posts ("Lecturers with PhDs overqualified for job", December 14) is that PhD programmes do not normally teach candidates how to teach. In that respect, most new job entrants are underqualified, not overqualified. This point is masked in the current rage for "research-led teaching", often just a euphemism for the ability to teach no more than one's PhD topic.

The simple solution is to treat masters and doctoral degrees as distinct training programmes, the former to develop broad teaching competence and the latter specialised research competence. One may acquire a masters while training for a doctorate, as is common today, but each degree could also be acquired separately. This would help to end the mismatch of training and employment that increasingly characterises the academic labour market.

Steve Fuller, Professor of sociology Warwick University.

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