I enjoy the flexibility that teaching in a university offers. There is never enough time to do everything, but I can work from home while still communicating with my students via email or text message. Currently I am coordinating a large and a small course, which I have designed to be a ‘boutique’ unit for third year students. They love it and I can gain some traction with my PhD research. As with most universities now, I need a PhD to gain promotion and better pay. I have decided that this is the job I love, so will fast track this step so I can get ahead.
Sometimes, there is inequity in workloads and colleagues get resentful. Now that I am an experienced academic and know what I am doing, I can negotiate my workload terms with my head of school. Last year I was short by 11 hours and I had to carry over an equivalent penalty this year. Recently, I also conducted an extra lecture for new students, which was outside of my workload. However, you give and take, which is compensated for by the flexibility.
I have little trouble locating and retaining casual staff. At the end of a semester, I circulate an email requesting expressions of interest and I employ many really good people. Most of the sessional staff I employ were my previous students and are mature aged. Many of them gained high distinctions and have expressed a desire to undertake further study. My course involves a lot of reading and understanding, and people have to be interested and knowledgeable with what’s happening in the international market. For example, one of my lecturers is the general manager of a large corporation in Australia with overseas connections. Nevertheless, the university doesn’t always look after its good casual staff. The bane of marking is not always reflected in what people get paid.
I handle complaints by getting on to them quickly. People are happy when their issue is resolved and they can then move on. I use the business adage of giving good service to people and, while many businesses are not good at this, I do try to train my students for the business world in a practical way.
I feel well valued by my students and have won teaching excellence awards. Last year, for example, I finished very highly in nation wide student evaluations. However, I can’t progress because I do not have a doctorate. We are going for accreditation in our discipline and academics must have a doctorate as a minimum standard. Fortunately, I am able to supplement my income with work in South-East Asia and with distance education. There are contradictions in some promotions. Some people have PhDs but are from overseas and students cannot understand them. I think this is something that the NTEU needs to look at.