[-empyre-] Laura Borras

Simon Biggs s.biggs at eca.ac.uk
Tue Mar 10 23:54:58 EST 2009

I think it is important to point out that not all countries have tenure for
academic staff, whilst many run a mixed economy.

In the UK tenure was abolished a couple of decades ago. Staff can be
contracted for specific periods of time (one, two, three years) on contracts
that may or may not be renewable. Nearly all research staff are employed
like this. A lot of junior teaching staff are on sessional contracts, paid
by the hour ­ such staff can be ³let go² at a day¹s notice. They are not
even fired or made redundant as their contract is designed to avoid any
commitment from the institution. Some staff have their contracts made
³permanent² after a year or so. A lot of senior teaching and management
staff have contracts such as these. However, even with a permanent contract
you can be made redundant at any time and fired if you do not meet your
agreed performance targets for a particular period. If made redundant the
value of the ³permanent² contract is that the institution will pay you a
severance deal, which can function as a deterent to the institution getting
rid of you (10% for every year worked is typical). If you are fired then
that is it...you are fired.

London Metropolitan University, one of the largest in the country, is
preparing to make 20% of its staff redundant. A number of other institutions
are looking at 5-10% reductions in staffing over the next 12 months. The
University of the Arts in London has had a 35% cut in its funding for
research, as a result of the recent Research Assessment Exercise, so it will
need to save a few million somehow. Staff will be reduced. UK contractual
arrangements mean they will be able to achieve staff reductions over a
period of weeks or months, not years.

In the US senior staff have tenure, but more and more work is delivered by
adjunct staff, who have little contractual protection. Australia, New
Zealand and Canada largely duplicate this model.

The situation in most European countries benefits the employee far more.



Simon Biggs
Research Professor
edinburgh college of art
s.biggs at eca.ac.uk

simon at littlepig.org.uk
AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk

Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland, number SC009201

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