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Junior academic staff are exploited at universities

The latest Times Higher Education league table finds that most Irish universities have dropped down the league table. One of the causes for this downgrading is perhaps being overlooked.

There are increasing levels of employee apartheid in many Irish universities. An elite group of staff and senior permanent academics enjoy remuneration and conditions that are in stark contrast with those of part-time, temporary and hourly-paid staff.

What probably began as a genuine effort to use post-graduate researchers as class-room assistants and tutors, thereby giving them important experience, has expanded over the past decade. Now complete modules and undergraduate courses are being thought by temporary hourly-paid employees, many of whom have PhDs, but who are being denied permanent employment that their qualifications justify. The working conditions of many of them include no access to university office and computer facilities.

In addition they are expected to work many hours of unpaid work for each paid lecture hour, including lecture preparation, student guidance, the setting and correction of exams and other administrative tasks.

When it comes to the treatment of junior and temporary employees, most Irish universities are engaged in a race to to the bottom. They are winning that race, at the expense of unjust exploitation of employees and decreasing standards of third level education.

Dr Edward Horgan





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