Consequences to come when young academics have no path from the precariat

And yet professional staff Monash U researchers warn

Quality higher education in Australia depends on a pipeline of “fully rounded academics”, but management responses to the challenge of providing them are “reactive and haphazard,” Paul Richardson and Amanda Heffernan (both Monash U) write for the Australian Association for Research in Education.

They set out a bunch of problems, including;

* a coming shortage of academics

* management relying on sessional, fixed-term and contract staff

* “excessive workload demands, intrusive managerialism and bureaucratic reporting requirements

There is more of the same, but what is especially interesting is the distinction the authors identify between the condition of young scholars caught in the academic precariat and professional staff.

“New types of professional staff appointments have grown exponentially and found secure positions within universities as student advisers, HR managers, teaching and learning advisers, technical staff to manage digital technologies, academic advisers or facilitators to administer teaching programs in ‘flexible’ modes, including technology mediated on-line teacher-less classrooms, and most recently, the emergence of practice professionals who teach but are not expected to contribute to the research endeavour.

“There are irrevocable tensions that will continue to build in the university higher education workforce, between academic and professional staff who are appointed to ongoing positions with a career path and prospects, versus the short-term, contracted, sessional academic appointments, who are not offered a career path, creating a sense of existential precariousness with few future prospects,” they argue.


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