Barriers to Professional Development among Contingent Academic Employees: An Australian Case Study

By Suzanne Ryan and Asit Bhattacharyya.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp.247-262. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.066MB).

Dr. Suzanne Ryan

Senior Lecturer, Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle, Australia

Senior Lecturer, Newcastle Business School University of Newcastle, Australia

Dr Asit Bhattacharyya

Lecturer, School of Business and Management, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia

Asit Bhattacharyya is a lecturer of accounting at the University of Newcastle. He joined the University of Newcastle in 2008. Asit previously taught at Monash University (Singapore) and the University of New England for over 9 years. His main research areas are: corporate social and environment reporting, and accountability; teaching and learning Issues; accounting; learning and international students; chinese learners; learning approaches; and learning experiences of international students.


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