Workload in institutes of technology

 

Madam, – We are most perturbed by the text of an anonymous letter reproduced in the Teacher’s Pet column (Education Today, September 28th).

The workload and calibre of lecturers in institutes of technology (IoTs) compares very favourably with lecturers elsewhere, be it nationally or internationally. Lecturers in IoTs are generally recruited with a master’s and PhD degrees, as they are in universities; they teach 16 to 18 hours per week against an international norm of around 10 and a recently revealed national norm for certain universities of six.

A lecturing hour, particularly at honours degree and master’s level, requires up to four hours in preparation and administration time. In addition, lecturers have a list of over 20 other items of academic responsibility in their job specification, including research, course development and planning, along with devising all relevant syllabi on an on-going basis, extensive student continuous and final assessment, which involves setting and correction of all examinations. Many institutes carry out extensive applied research, where academic staff supervise master’s and PhD students and acquit themselves well by comparison with other higher education institutes, even on a tiny share of the overall available research funding.

Anyone with passing acquaintance with the assessment regime in the institutes would realise that examinations in the trades, for example, are conducted in June, not May.

I suspect that heads of school, who are charged, inter alia, with timetabling highly complex programmes that cater for hugely increased student numbers at a time of very sharp cuts in staffing, will be wryly amused by the frankly daft characterisation of them as having a six-month year.

The portrayal by the anonymous academic denigrates institutes of technology, their staff and the huge number of students attending these colleges. I would be more than willing to debate the issues raised by the academic in a suitable forum in your newspaper, if of course they had courage enough in their convictions to cast aside the security blanket of anonymity. – Yours, etc,

PETER MacMENAMIN,

General Secretary,

TUI,

Orwell Road,

Rathgar, Dublin 6.