Scholarly Teaching Fellows: Points for Discussion
NTEU National Council Workshop, October 2016
- A de-constituted academic workforce: Disaggregation via contingency. Academic work % FTE (1990-13): casual teachers 11-22%; fixed term research 28-35%; continuing 60-45%. Headcount 85,000 casual (12,000 FTE). Face to face teaching: 50-70% casualised; IEHA estimate is 44% casual, 16% fixed term.
- Structural context
(i) Tertiary industrialisation: intensification, division of labour (v. ‘craft’), deskilling / de-professionalisation
(ii) Neoliberalisation: public-private corporatisation, managerial control (v. autonomy), ‘flexibility’, precarity
(iii) Workforce / quality crisis: non-renewal of academic workforce; division between teaching and research
- Legislative context: 2011 Higher Education Standards Framework Act requires ‘sustained scholarship that informs teaching and learning in all fields in which courses of study are offered’ (2.2.5); stipulates that ‘academic staff are active in scholarship that informs their teaching’ (2.1.4).
- Industrial drivers : EB Round 6 delivered 486 STFs as a new category of employment in 28 of the 40 sites, about 4% FTE of existing casual staff in the sector. EB drivers included: (i) NTEU: de-casualisation goal (-20% ie to 16% FTE) + career pathways (ii) Universities: teaching-only continuing staff + workforce / program stability
- Re-composition of work: A job security and quality teaching agenda – skill recognition and re-professionalisation of teaching. STFs re-aggregate teaching with scholarship, defined as the knowledge of existing fields required for university teaching (research, in terms of academic investigation for new knowledge, remains separate).
- Two-tier continuing academics?: The NTEU sought STFs with continuing status and a right to promotion to a teaching-research workload to prevent a locked-in STF ‘underclass’. This was not achieved at all campuses. Some STFs are have no exit to 40:40:20; STF teaching load can be heavily face-to-face (ie not ‘education development’); with many not continuing. Some stipulate scholarship ‘of’ teaching (rather than scholarship ‘in’ teaching); some STFs are managed via T&L not via Depts. Most important, STFs do not necessarily reduce overall casualisation – universities can use new teaching intensive or redeployed positions to meet STF targets, or they can increase both casuals and STFs. Academic casualisation overall is continuing to rise.
- An Unfolding Agenda: The NTEU has prioritised job security and re-skilling for casual teachers via the STFs. This comes with risks for the teaching/research model, but begins the process of addressing decomposition/contingency. STFs create a new category of employment that may be extended; STF conditions need to be clearly protected in the EA; STFs do not necessarily decasualise the workplace; the STF model may offer a way of addressing insecurity for fixed-term researchers.
Research Project: 2016-18
The Office for Learning and Teaching has funded a 2-year project to investigate the experience with STFs and to build consensus on how they may develop across the sector. The project is across 4 universities, with James Goodman and Keiko Yasukawa at UTS; Anne Junor, UNSW; Tony Brown, UCanberra; Kaye Broadbent and Glenda Strachan, Griffith. We are likely to include 3-4 other sites that have appointed a large number of STFs. The project involves interviews with STFs, their colleagues and managers, leading to a report discussed in cross-site focus groups and at a sector conference.
We are keen to hear about experiences with the STF positions, and perspectives on how they may be developed, including around the issue of de-casualisation: firstname.lastname@example.org