The University Strategy encompasses four core principles – collegiality, quality, internationalisation and sustainability. This panel considers working conditions in higher education and how they reflect these core principles. An intersectional perspective across race, class and gender; across different career stages; across different HE institutions and in a global perspective are of interest of staff and PhD students and will be presented and discussed at the event. Our panel below will each provide a short presentation before we open this up for a roundtable discussion.
Understanding minority ethnic flight from UK higher education
Kalwant Bhopal, Professor of Education and Social Justice, Southampton Education School
This presentation describes the experiences of BME academics who consider moving overseas for career opportunities. It explores the barriers that BME academics report in UK higher education, which affects their decisions for overseas higher education migration. The presentation will draw on research funded by the Equality Challenge Unit and suggests that BME academics were significantly more likely than White academics to have ever considered moving overseas. In contrast those who stay in the UK report barriers to career progression. The research concludes that significant change is needed in the UK higher education sector in order to retain BME academics.
Collegiality and ventriloquism in the accelerated academy
Bruce Macfarlane, Professor of Higher Education, Co-Director of CHES, Southampton Education School
Collegiality is one of the most symbolically significant values of the academic profession. Its different forms – structural, cultural and behavioral – are associated with academic self-governance and a wider ethic of care. But collegiality, understood as a behavioral norm, has been hollowed out in an increasingly individualized and performative academic environment. The idea of collegiality continues to be ventriloquised but the evidence suggests that commitment is weakening, undermining the moral infrastructure that has always relied on an invisible college of intellectual generosity.
The impact of job insecurity on research productivity
Eric Silverman, Senior Lecturer in Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Computing, School of Computing, Teeside University
For many early-career researchers in the UK, their working conditions are defined by the stress and uncertainty of life on successive fixed-term contracts. The sector-wide pressure to obtain research grants has led to an increasing reliance on postdocs to conduct research while more senior academics spend much of their time preparing bids. My colleagues and I have set out to investigate the connection between research funding systems and the career structures they incentivise, and preliminary results suggest that our current system is neither efficient in terms of return on investment, nor effective in producing a supportive working environment for postdocs.
Change? Are we really ready to embrace the Digital Workplace?
Fiona Harvey, ILIad and UCU Equality Officer
We live in a world connected through physical and virtual networks and access to technology to connect around the world in seconds, through video, podcast and text. How ready are we to take advantage of this flexibility? How open are we to embrace the digital world? The talk aims to answer these questions from a variety of perspectives viewed through a digital literacies lens. It will focus on equality and transparency as well as the values of the university. What are the barriers to change and what can we do to support an agile, open and collegiate environment?