Sep 07 2014

The Class Struggle Inside the Public University

Category: Contract FacultyBob Hanke @ 3:47 pm

Exploitation in the ivory tower

(excerpted from CBC Radio One, September 7, 2014)

It is a black mark on the ivory tower, a story of insecurity, fear, jealousy, thwarted ambition, poverty and inequality. And it’s a reality that university presidents, and many professors, don’t like to talk about.

Universities in Canada – which threw open their doors this week to almost a million undergraduates – are propped up by a huge army of part-time teachers, who are highly qualified and poorly paid. They have no job security or pension, and little hope of ever getting a full-time position. They go by many titles: sessional lecturers, contract academic staff, adjunct faculty.

Today more than half of Canadian undergraduates are taught by these very precarious workers, not by the big-name  – and well-paid – academics that universities like to feature in their recruiting ads. The institutions simply couldn’t function without them.

Higher education has a new business model. And it affects everyone on campus – the administration, the high-end “professoriate”, the lowly sessionals and the students.

To listen to Ira Basen’s documentary “Class Struggle,” click here.

To read the companion CBC News story “Most university undergrads now taught by poorly paid part-timers,” click here.

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