Sessional employment and quality in universities: a risky business

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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 international higher education sector is increasingly reliant on precariously employed academic staff who deliver a significant proportion of teaching load. Although this is increasingly viewed as a risk to the quality of teaching and learning, there is little research that tests the proposition. We take up this challenge by analysing and comparing student course evaluations and the results of an online survey of sessional academics. Results show that the risk derives not from the sessionals themselves nor their teaching but from inadequate institutional support for and management of sessional academics.

Keywords: precarious academic employment, quality of teaching, quality assurance