Scholarly Teaching Fellows: Points for Discussion

NTEU National Council Workshop, October 2016
J Goodman

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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).
  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
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. 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: