The quality illusion

This coordinator feels increased pressure from the expectation to undertake research in addition to his teaching and coordination responsibilities. Added to this is the increase in student numbers and their lowered motivation, while trying to maintain unit quality. Work/life balance is affected. More...

I have been an academic at this university over 20 years. A major issue for me was the shift from an Institute of Technology to a university, along with the change from a teaching only role, to one including teaching and research. Being expected to undertake research adds to the pressure I feel at work.

The funding for students has also diminished during this time resulting in academics teaching to larger classes and making courses generic. Many students in these larger classes do not want to be here. Despite this, I feel that an overlying illusion prevails that academics are able to maintain the same teaching and learning quality as previously. I see this as an issue.

I continually compare the quality of education offered today with that of 30 years ago. In the late seventies, and early eighties, educational institutions received greater funding and fewer students selected university studies after finishing school. Now we take a larger number of students with lower motivation and try to educate them to a high standard. To achieve this I work longer hours. I get to work at seven every morning and finish about ten at night, after some time off for dinner. Working longer hours affects my work-life balance.

There are some up-sides though. The university is encouraging staff to increase efficiencies and to think more about what they are doing and how they are doing it. Internet use and small group work is encouraged. We look for creative ways to work with our students and include workshops, mini case studies and project based teaching regularly. Such approaches ensure more effective learning and helps to maintain quality teaching and learning for our students. While we see our students as individuals and teach to the different learning styles, it can be draining for staff. I feel that I am doing my job well but know that some of the older academics are burning out.

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