Barriers to Professional Development Among Contingent Academic Employees: An Australian Case Study
The International Journal of Learning, Forthcoming
17 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2016 Last revised: 18 Feb 2016
Date Written: February 8, 2016
Internationally higher education institutions are increasingly reliant on precariously employed non-tenured academic staff, contingent academics. At the same time, institutions are facing great difficulties in replacing and replenishing their aging academic workforce. Although contingent academics are responsible for a significant proportion of teaching, they are frequently excluded from professional development opportunities that would allow them to form part of the solution to the shortages among tenured academics. Additionally, in Australia poor outcomes in teaching and learning are often attributed to the presence of high numbers of contingent academics, but little is known of the accuracy of these accusations. This paper reports on a research project based on a survey of contingent academics in the disciplines of business and law at an Australian university. The survey sought information and perceptions on academic development and support, teaching practices, and motivation and satisfaction with their employment situation. The impact of these factors, especially professional development and support, on the ability of such employees to establish tenure track positions and deliver quality teaching and learning outcomes is analysed. Results demonstrate high levels of satisfaction with teaching, but low levels of satisfaction with development and career opportunities. The paper concludes with suggestions for improving access to professional development and career progression for contingent academics.
Keywords: Contingent Academic Labour, Professional Development, Higher Education Introduction
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