Push to increase teaching load
Madam, – Your Education Correspondent, Seán Flynn (Home News, December 29th) referred to a message I sent to colleagues in institutes of technology recently. He also quoted Prof Von Prondzynski, who is not from our sector, as saying that holidays in institutes of technology were “hard to defend”. In addition, Mr Flynn refers to a current annual workload of 560 hours per year. The Department of Education is attempting to enforce an annual teaching load of a minimum of 560 hours per year in addition to the additional hour per week stipulated in the Croke Park deal. Workload is a different matter.
The workload of lecturers at third level involves both teaching and scholarship. Scholarship includes inter alia research, creative writing and maintenance of world-class practical skills in a rapidly changing world.
Some commentators take no account of the number of post- graduate students supervised, the amount of research and scholarship carried out, the number of publications produced, the weight of course direction and co-ordination undertaken, or the course reviews completed (not to mention lecture preparation and task correction).
Under the Croke Park deal the management side is demanding that the teaching load be increased to 20 plus one hours per week for lecturers and 22 plus one hours for assistant lecturers. A survey commissioned by TUI some years ago concluded that the current 16/18 hour lecturing load was equivalent to a 50-54 hour working week of teaching and related duties alone. It is extremely difficult to conduct the degree of scholarship appropriate to a third-level institution in the context of such a teaching load.
Currently many lecturers struggle on with scholarly activity during term time and then put on a big push during the holidays. Any agreement to reduce the vacation period would lead to an extension of teaching into the holiday period by the authorities.
The attempt by institutes and Government to reduce vacation periods in addition to imposing the biggest teaching load in Western Europe on lecturing staff cannot fail to damage the institutes and literally make the adequate performance of full academic duties impossible.
It is clear that government wishes to effectively reduce the institutes to teaching-only institutions.
The development of institutes of technology has been a hugely successful initiative in Irish education. Could the Government that oversaw the destruction of the banks be allowed to seriously damage third-level education also? – Yours, etc,