University education has become expensive across the globe. Therefore university administrators must develop strategies that increase student enrollment but also maintain a high quality of education. Furthermore, globalization has led to increased enrollment of international students in universities, so administrators are forced to employ more staff in order to provide adequate teaching resources and high-quality education to the students. This paper analyses articles related to the use of sessional lecturers in universities in order to reduce the strain on the lecturers available in an institution.
Despite the high fees charged in universities, a more significant number of students are enrolling in these institutions. Therefore, to meet the needs of the growing student population, university administrators usually employ sessional lecturers in order to save on money and to enable their regular staff to engage in research. However, most of these sessional lecturers do not have job security or earn benefits like full-time lecturers. In the article by Southall (2017), the author uses international research to outline the importance of such staff in learning institutions. Unlike other studies that concentrate on students and regular staff, Southall (2017) broaches this little-discussed topic and argues that student enrollment has increased due to the massification of education and thus created a need for sessional staff to save on money but also serve a more significant number of students.
The author is concerned with the poor pay the sessional staff receives as well as their lack of professional development (Southall, 2017). With the changing demands of the job marketplace and the needs of students, the staff should be qualified in order to meet these needs. Administrators should, therefore, help these staffs to obtain professional development so that they can enhance their teaching abilities and earn higher salaries. This should motivate them to provide higher quality education to their students because a motivated employee is more productive. Professionally developing the staff means that students will receive a quality education, an enhanced learning experience, and increased chances of employability. The author uses literature review and a case study with two sessional staff to demonstrate that with access to funding and guidance, sessional employees can obtain an academic identity that is similar to their full-time colleagues and be able to enhance their teaching practice.
The article by Birdsell Bauer (2017) takes another perspective from the viewpoint of graduate employees who face income insecurity in Canada due to the casualized academic labor market. The author provides pertinent statistics on the situation, for instance citing that permanent academic jobs in the country are still limited, but there is an increment by 149% of contract academic staff. The data provided by the University of Toronto (UoT) shows that the university prefers to hire part-time rather than a full-time staff to save on costs in the long term. Therefore, similarly to Southall (2017) who are advocating for better economic and professional growth for sessional staff, Birdsell Bauer (2017) additionally argues about the disadvantage of casualizing the academic labor market as this could affect the quality of education offered.
Birdsell Bauer (2017) demonstrates that graduate students might take on jobs in academia in order to meet their bills, but it is also essential to make sure that these graduates can advance up the professional ladder. The author provides an example of how graduate employees at the UoT went on strike due to poor salaries that could not satisfy their living and educational needs. Therefore, administrators should find the right balance between professional development and income for its sessional and graduate employees. This issue can be linked to Psalms 128: 2 in the Bible that exhorts people to eat the fruit of their labor so that they can be blessed. Therefore, sessional and graduate staffs should be allowed to work and be justly rewarded for their hard work at all times.
To support faculty teaching and reduce the costs experienced by both current and graduate students, the article by Cancilla et al. (2017) adds that administrators should put in place digital learning systems to reduce student costs and improve their learning process. Such an approach could help the graduate students to continue with their education as they work part-time and in this way, they will be able to save on their tuition fees. Considering that many students take educational loans, this article is important in that it helps administrators to find useful strategies for reducing student costs. The article is based on a university project that aims to reduce the educational costs for students by enabling them to use digital tools for their learning. Therefore, such a program might enable universities to reduce their dependence on sessional staff who might not be as well trained as is needed, while still ensuring that the students receive the necessary learning resources for their education.
The articles demonstrate the need for professional and economic growth for both sessional staff and graduate students. Even though all articles discuss the economic challenges faced by the workers, they are different in the way that they approach the issues of economic compensation and professional development for the part-time and full-time staffs. From the articles, it is possible to surmise that institutions of higher education should implement new strategies for supporting both their full-time and part-time employees so that every one of them can offer their students a quality learning experience. As the workers do this, they will also be able to reduce their student loans and increase their economic stability as they continue in their chosen professions.
Birdsell Bauer, L. (2017). Professors-in-training or precarious workers? Identity, coalition building, and social movement unionism in the 2015 University of Toronto Graduate Employee Strike. Labor Studies Journal, 42(4), 273-294.
Cancilla, N., Glushko, B., Orfano, S., & Slaght, G. (2017). Engaging faculty and reducing costs by leveraging collections: A pilot project to reduce course pack use. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication.
Southall, J. (2017). Realizing the potential of sessional staff as educational scholars. Practice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 12(3), 465-483
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