The casual approach to university teaching; time for a re-think?

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 34: Higher Education on the Edge

July, 2011, 394 pages
Published by
K. Krause, M. Buckridge, C. Grimmer, & S. Purbrick-Illek
0 908557 85 X

The majority of undergraduate teaching at Australian universities is performed by casual, hourly paid, staff. This was not always the case. The casualisation of academic teaching that has occurred over the last two to three decades underscores a fundamental change in the nature of academic work and the structure of the academic labour market. At the same time, a sense of crisis is building around shortages for academic staff, with the majority of tenured academics aged over 50 and moving toward retirement. The traditional academic career path appears to be under reconstruction, and what might be thought of as the career entry point is concentrated with insecure employment. For those casual staff seeking an academic career it is unclear how time spent as a casual assists in that search, or whether working as a casual makes the transition to more secure employment more difficult. Women are entering academia in ever greater numbers and are often seen as the solution to the workforce renewal crisis, however they are also more likely to be employed on a casual basis with limited career prospects. The research forms part of a wider ARC project: Gender and Employment Equity: Strategies for Advancement in Australian Universities. Using new data from the universities superannuation fund Unisuper, obtained as part of this research project, a more thorough analysis of the casual teaching academic workforce is undertaken.

Keywords; casual employment, casualisation, university, gender, academic employment