The University of Cambridge is planning to formalise its teaching-only posts in a move that one academic has branded a “huge change” for the institution.
Cambridge’s general board has recommended that two new university “offices” – or academic posts – be established for the small but growing number of teaching-only staff on open-ended contracts.
Gill Evans, emeritus professor in medieval theology at the institution, said that the creation of the new titles may reflect a shift towards the current trend in higher education of “identifying teaching-only powers”.
Writing in the 16 July issue of the Cambridge Reporter, the university’s general board says that the current set-up for teaching provision has developed in a “piecemeal fashion” with staff subject to a variety of terms and conditions, which is “unsatisfactory and poses risks for the university”.
It recommends that new offices of lecturer (teaching) and senior lecturer (teaching) be established to provide a clear structure for appointments and promotions.
Traditionally, the academic career structure at Cambridge has been based on university offices that include both teaching and research. Professor Evans said: “It [has been] absolutely fundamental since 1877 that Cambridge academics [are] there to do research as well as teach. So it is a huge change in that respect.
“This looks a bit like Cambridge going with the trend of identifying teaching-only powers.”
The general board says that combined teaching and research offices will provide the main career structure for permanent academic posts.
It adds that the new teaching-only offices should be used sparingly because of the “university’s critical dependence on maintaining high-quality research”.
A spokesman for Cambridge stressed that the creation of the new offices is currently a recommendation.