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Margin Notes

Australia’s professors heading toward crisis

Academic workforce Down Under suffers from low satisfaction levels, high work loads, says study.

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | OCT 09 2009

I always thought Australia would be a fine choice for Canadian academics looking to relocate. But, a new report by the L. H. Martin Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Management warns Australia’s academic workforce is headed toward crisis, suffering from low satisfaction levels and high work loads.

A news report from the University of Melbourne says the study reveals:

[…] that Australian academics are less satisfied with their work than international colleagues and are more likely to change jobs. They report one of the lowest levels of satisfaction with institutional management and support, sit slightly below the international average in terms of the extent of fixed-term contracts and work among the longest hours.

There is also a looming shortage of faculty, although that could be viewed as a positive for young Canadian academics looking for work:

Over the next five years, 24 per cent of senior academics will retire and another 23 per cent will follow in the following five-year period, equating to a loss of around 5000 senior academics across Australia. Current numbers of young academics are unlikely to be enough to replace this loss.

However, the looming shortage of academic staff has been compounded by a 107 percent increase in student numbers between 1989 and 2007, with only a 28 percent increase in staff numbers during the same period, the study notes. Add to that the fact that the Australian federal government has a target of 40 percent attainment of bachelor degrees among Australia’s young adults, and the result will likely be further stress to “already compromised staff:student ratios.”

Oh well, it’s still warmer and sunnier down there.

ABOUT LÉO CHARBONNEAU
Léo Charbonneau
Léo Charbonneau is the editor of University Affairs.
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