UniCanberra professors push-back at staff-intensive research plan

The University of Canberra professoriate wants management to abandon its strategy to grow research by piling pressure on specially hired academics. “We consider the human, organisational, and cultural costs to the people involved, their colleagues, and the university outweigh any benefits that may accrue,” some 30 professors and aspros warn in a letter to VC Deep Saini.

The university plan is for “assistant professors” to have up to seven years to build their and the university’s research rep. They will face two performance reviews before they qualify for permanent positions or promotion. However, the professors say the plan:

* “causes undue stress and anxiety for many assistant professors, due to the uncertainty about the outcome following a lengthy period of contingent employment”

* “has discriminatory effects. Young academics who interrupt their career to start a family or to care for family members, and/or who have a period of fractional employment during their seven years, are potentially disadvantaged”

* “is ill-suited for staff in professionally-oriented disciplines,” who “must have professional backgrounds to teach in the area and are unlikely to have significant research on which to build during their assistant professor appointment.”

The professor also point out that if all 50 assistant professors make the cut, the university’s staff profile will “quickly become top-heavy.”

A campus-based analysis of the university’s research output also indicates UniCanberra is not outstripping the generality of Australian universities, which do not have such schemes.

The university branch of the National Tertiary Education Union has also bought into the debate, making job security for assistant professors an enterprise bargaining issue.


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