Casual, short term contracts for lecturers in UL and across Ireland are creating an “employer’s paradise”, according to a lecturer in University of Limerick, Doctor Geraldine Mooney Simmie.
Academic staff in UL have recently voiced concerns that an increase in unfair contracts could lead to lecturers becoming more casual about their work. Dr Simmie believes that those in power are “finding new ways to avoid giving full time employment to academic staff.”
Asked whether it would damage the quality of education for students, Dr Simmie said “I would raise it as one of the most serious questions to be asked of our education system. I want UL to be the first university to raise this as an issue of national debate.”
One of the concerns of lecturers is that if they do not get full time employment, they may soon become aloof with their work. “Soon they may find they have no voice. Unless they become part of the teaching team, they will be more casual workers.”
“The global information that I have seen shows that this situation will get worse before it gets better. I would like to begin a debate about the education system in Ireland generally, rather than just here in UL,” Dr Simmie added.
Mike Jennings of the Irish Federation of University Teachers believes the casualization of employment is “a scourge of the Higher Education System in Ireland.” He said what he described in an article for the Irish Times as “financial starvation” could threaten to ruin Ireland’s education system.
“The long term effects of casualization are far worse than any problems that might come from lack of funding. Funding can be corrected but the effect of downgrading academic jobs could undermine the whole ethos of the Higher Education system in Ireland.”