Canadian university professors work harder than their colleagues in other developed countries but they also report higher levels of job satisfaction, says a new study by researchers at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).
The study was conducted by Bryan Gopaul, Glen Jones and Julian Weinrib of OISE’s Higher Education Group. Dr. Gopaul and Dr. Jones presented their findings at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education, part of this year’s Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. (A copy of their paper can be accessed under “coming publications” from Glen Jones’s website.) Congress took place at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University from May 26 to June 2.
The study is based on data from the Changing Academic Profession Survey, which explores the perceptions of academic work by full-time faculty members in 18 countries plus Hong Kong. About 1,200 Canadian respondents at 18 institutions participated in the survey, conducted in 2007 and 2008.
Canadian professors reported working more than 50 hours a week on academic activities when classes were in session, which is more than their counterparts in the U.S., Australia and the U.K. Canadians spent an average of 16 hours a week on research, 19.6 hours on teaching, 4.3 hours on service, 7.9 on administrative work and 2.7 hours on other academic activities. When classes weren’t in session, the time spent on research rose to 28.5 hours a week and time spent on teaching fell to 5.4 hours; time spent on other duties was little changed.
At the same time, the survey showed Canadian faculty members had among the highest job satisfaction rates of any country, with 75 percent describing their satisfaction with their job as high or very high; in comparison, about 64 percent in the U.S., 55 percent in Australia and slightly more than 45 percent in Britain reported job satisfaction as high or very high.
However, about 40 percent of Canadian respondents agreed with the statement: “My job is a source of considerable personal strain,” a larger share than in the U.S. but well below levels reported by their Australian and British counterparts.
On the whole, the Canadian professoriate are very hard working, well paid and highly satisfied with their jobs but they experience some workplace stress, the authors concluded: “Canadian faculty are doing reasonably well compared to their peers in other countries.” But, they noted that the survey involved only full-time faculty members; sessional instructors were not included.
The study also showed that Canadian academics face as much pressure as those in other countries to find external sources of research funding. Three-quarters of Canadian respondents said the pressure to raise external research funds had increased since their first appointment, compared to 69 percent in the U.S., and 86 percent in both Australia and the U.K.
Canadian respondents reported that only 4.5 percent of their total research funding derives from business and industry sources. “While individual faculty members perceive institutions as being relatively interested in promoting commercially oriented or applied research, for the most part this interest has not translated into substantial shifts in research practices or interests at the individual level,” the authors wrote.
I think overall that Canadian academics should be happy. I understand the pressures of teaching, research grants, and administrative duties, but it’s still a pretty good gig. Compare the salaries, freedom, and interesting university environment with most other professions …
Would be interesting to measure job satisfaction among the contract faculty which number near to above 50% of teaching in several Canadian universities.
Zarko makes an excellent point. One of the obviously limitations of the Canadian component of the Changing Academic Professions study is that we focused entirely on full-time faculty. Given that this was one of the very first national studies of the professoriate in Canada the decision was made to focus primarily on the “traditional” tenure-stream. We also knew that it would be very difficult to do a national study of contract/contingent faculty given the challenges of defining categories and obtaining contact information. However, research on contract faculty clearly needs to take place since the number of these appointments is increasing and these individuals are playing a major teaching role in many Canadian universities. The most comprehensive work on this topic that has been done to-date in Canada is Indhu Rajagopaul’s book “Hidden Academics” which was published in 2002 (University of Toronto Press).
By the way, if anyone wants to fund a national study of contract faculty please let me know.