Casualisation of employment in academia

 

Sir, – Well done to Peter McGuire for his insightful article on the casualisation of staff in third-level education (“Casual contracts: the precarious world of academia”, Education, April 4th). There are many ways to weaken academic freedom, and casualisation is one of them. – Yours, etc,

P O’RIORDAN,

Diblin 8.

Sir, – Your piece on security of employment in academia contains this line: “Many permanent staff have to lean on people who are more precarious than they are, which can be a source of discomfort”.

Who exactly is forcing them to lean on others significantly less well paid than they are? Why are they giving in to them? And surely this should be more than just a source of “discomfort”.

Might shame at such exploitation not be a more appropriate response? – Yours, etc,

CIARAN McCULLAGH,

Bishopstown,

Cork.

Sir, – On the issue of casualisation among academic and administrative staff in the Irish third-level sector.

A retired academic, I saw this trend creeping in relentlessly over the past decade to the point where it has now become a normal feature of employment in the sector.

Yet, despite widespread concern about declining academic standards (such, for example, as grade inflation) and the falling position of Irish universities in global rankings, the issue of casualisation has received little attention.

As an external examiner in UCC, I had occasion to raise the issue as I feared it was affecting standards yet I still await any response from that university to my concerns.

Indeed, my experience is that the issue appears of little concern to the leadership of our universities.

Neither, judging from your article, does the Higher Education Authority appear too concerned.

Apart from the grave injustice of this situation, do our academic administrators not realise that we are fast creating conditions that erode the quality of teaching and learning, that destroy loyalty and collegiality, and that make an academic career an unattractive option for our most talented young people?

For anyone concerned about the future of our society, it should be a most serious concern. – Yours, etc,

PEADAR KIRBY,

Cloughjordan,

Co Tipperary.