The attractiveness of the Australian academic Profession

From Yoni Ryan

A new report just released by the LH Martin Institute at the University of Melbourne considers ‘The attractiveness of the Australian academic profession: A comparative analysis’. It doesn’t make happy reading.

Salaries are comparable with those for university teaching in other comparable countries, but are relatively poor compared with those in the private sector. (The same holds for school teachers.) It has generally been argued that academics have high job satisfaction that makes up for the relatively poorer salary position. However, this study reports that Australian academics score as low as those from Portugal and China in terms of satisfaction. A large part of their dissatisfaction stems from workload. This study reports that senior staff hours average over 50 per week, while the average worker in Australia works 39.4 hours per week. Yet it would appear the amount of time spent on teaching itself has declined over the past 15 years, with an increase in administrative work time.

The authors argue that funding pressures have increased the level of casual employment to undertake teaching, and this too increases the level of dissatisfaction.

Would better pay compensate for the workload pressures on academics? Or would we rather have the same pay, but fewer chores to accomplish? Or are we just better at whingeing than other work groups?

Coates, H., Dobson, I., Edwards, D., Friedman, T., Goedegebuure, L. & Meek, L. 2009. The attractiveness of the Australian academic profession: A  comparative analysis’. Melbourne: LH Martin Institute. http://www.mihelm.unimelb.edu.au/conference_events/2009/research_briefing.pdf Accessed6 Oct 2009