Examining the shift to teaching-only positions

Friday, 1 March 2013

A discussion paper on teaching-only academic appointments in universities was released today by the Australian Government’s Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT).

The paper examines the possible motivations for the trend towards teaching only positions including issues associated with research activities, cost reduction, career opportunities, workload allocation, industrial relations and higher education programs being delivered by non-university providers.

“The paper provides an interesting snapshot of the use of teaching-only positions in Australian higher education and a framework for policy discussion in the university sector and beyond,” Professor Margaret Gardner AO, Chair of OLT’s Strategic Advisory Committee said.

“OLT commissioned this work to prompt debate about issues related to the growth in teaching-only positions in universities.

“We hope that the paper sparks an informed discussion about how these positions affect the quality of learning and teaching, which will lead to further work in this area.”

Since 2009, there has been a consistent upward trend in the number of academic staff being reported as teaching-only, rather than combining teaching and research.

The paper, authored by Professor Belinda Probert, former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe University, was commissioned by the OLT to examine the reasons for this growth and the likely impact on the quality of higher education learning and teaching.

The paper concludes that teaching-only positions should be used with a strategic intent to improve learning and teaching, although at present that is not always their primary focus. The role of scholarship and status of higher education teaching must be improved so that quality learning and teaching is the result.

The paper, Teaching focused academic appointments in Australian universities: recognition, specialisation or stratification? is available on the Office for Learning and Teaching website at www.olt.gov.au.

The OLT, part of the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, welcomes written responses to the report which may be sent to learningandteaching@innovation.gov.au

Media Contact: Department of Innovation media 02 6213 6308