Students and staff are equally stretched. Vast numbers of academic staff are wondering how long their jobs will exist. All the while they upload their lectures and seminars, wondering if once online their intellectual property is lost forever due to some small clause in their contract.
(Academic contracts are designed to keep legal minds employed indefinitely.) That is why academics rarely challenge what they have signed up to. They are just grateful to have a job in a subject they are truly passionate about. But the level of exploitation of staff in education needs to stop.
When will you learn?
It is unreasonable to leave academic staff in limbo. Once the university has their lectures online, what job security do academics have? They could be made redundant, get sacked, even die; and their recorded lectures could still be used by the university.
This question of IP has staff worried sick, but many universities do not care. They talk about mental awareness until they address the realities of what they are doing to staff.
In this time of lockdown, the demands on academic staff have increased tenfold. Like everyone else, they have to deal with their own anxieties and changes to their way of working. They have created and adapted materials to meet the requirements of a changed learning landscape, all the while supporting students whose learning experience is not what they expected unless of course, their degree was already heavily internet-based.
Value comes at a price
What has become clear over the last month is that the old world of not valuing what is important comes at a price. The earth is reclaiming itself, and we now need to reclaim education. The vice-chancellor figure heads and the endless layers of bureaucracy have to go—it is time to prioritise research, thought and nurturing.
Universities are overtly bureautic. There are centres for this and departments for that seem to just create paperwork for paperwork’s sake. There is no actual value in the level of administration where it currently resides.
Administrative support needs to be returned to the academics. This will enable them to have more time for their research and their students.
Yet admin support for staff has all but vanished as vice-chancellors cream away over-the-top salaries.
Meanwhile, academics wade through administrative hogwash.
In this new age of lockdown, personal connection in academia is on the critical list. An internal vote in each university for the person who has the best interest in students and staff is the way to choose vice-chancellors with a salary cap at an agreed national average.
The ivory towers that once promised so much are now like elephants without tusks. We need to recognize and protect the learning environment and those who contribute to it. It’s time to look up and embrace limitless thinking and opportunities.
#anxiety #time #education #resilience #trauma