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Thursday, 9 December, 1999, 15:47 GMT
Academics' worries over job security

lecturer Lecturers want more job security


Casual bar staff enjoy twice as much job security as academics, according to a survey.

Research commissioned by the Association of University Teachers (AUT), suggests that staff employed in higher education are twice as likely to move in and out of jobs as bar staff.

It also suggests that higher education is the third least stable area of employment, after recruitment agencies and campsites.

The research, which analysed the working conditions of more than 200 sections of the workforce based on returns to the official Labour Force Survey, conducted for the Office of National Statistics, reveals that almost a quarter of people employed in higher education are categorised as temporary staff.

It also suggests that building site workers are almost four times as likely to have some sort of secure future in their jobs as staff employed by a university or college.


building site Would academics have greater job security if they worked on building sites?
Inequality in the employment of men and women in higher education is also highlighted by the research.

The survey shows that while 59% of men in higher education have permanent contracts, only 47% of women are employed on a permanent basis.

In contrast, 50% of women have fixed term contracts, compared with 38% of men.

Researchers found this pattern was repeated with pay levels. The survey shows women are consistently worse off than their male counterparts - even at the professorial level.

Staff from ethnic minorities also have a higher proportion of fixed term contracts than white staff.

'Miserable exploitation'

Earlier this year, the AUT launched a programme of industrial action to try to secure a 10% pay rise and better working conditions.

The action, which included boycotting the university admissions process, was suspended to allow talks to continue.

The union says that by 2003/04, the majority of academic staff will be on "insecure" contracts of employment.

It says that using fixed term contracts lowers staff morale, is unfair to those facing financial difficulties, leads to increased stress, dissatisfaction and frustration, and denies staff proper career progression.

AUT General Secretary David Triesman said: "Bar work, catering, jobbing builders - they all provide for greater job security than universities provide for a lecturer in physics. Is that how we now value jobs in Britain? Is that our measure of fairness?

"Because academics have a vocation, it is no reason to subject them to this miserable exploitation."

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See also:
11 Nov 99 |  Education
Female dons losing out on pay
31 Oct 99 |  Education
Lecturers suspend strike threat

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