'Unfair' system doesn't reward teaching

September 13, 2002

Academics in new and old universities inhabit "different worlds" and should be assessed and funded accordingly, says a report out this week from recruitment specialists, Barkers.

The current funding system is "unfair", said Jeff Marshall, head of education research at Barkers. "Funding needs to be adapted so that institutions are rewarded for what they do well," he said.

He said that it should be acknowledged that some universities were largely teaching organisations and their staff should not be forced to participate in the research assessment exercise.

"The newer institutions are forced to put massive pressure on staff to obtain strong research assessments when what they are actually doing is delivering the government's agenda on widening participation - and they are doing this very well indeed," he said.

Mr Marshall said that he was alarmed at how many academics in old universities dismissed teaching. "It is seen as a burden, something beneath them," he said.

In 100 interviews with academics from nine universities and one higher education institution, the research found a yearning for the autonomy and research funds offered in the US.

"In particular they value the relative ease with which US university departments appear to create chairs and relative transparency of university appointments and promotions," the report says.

The report also says that while pay is not a top priority, its erosion compared with other sectors was a cause for concern. "Academics can in some cases earn more working in schools," it says.

The report was compiled in collaboration with the Universities' Personnel Association and was presented at its annual conference this week.

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