Look af­ter lec­tur­ers and the rest will fol­low

Mail & Guardian - - Comment & Analysis -

Ian Scott has pre­sented a well­crafted ar­gu­ment to sup­port his com­ment “Core is­sues be­sides fi­nance and ac­cess hin­der stu­dents’ suc­cess” (Oc­to­ber 20). How­ever, he has com­pletely ig­nored the role of the aca­demic staff (who for years have been ex­horted to “do more with less”) in the cur­rently dis­turbed higher ed­u­ca­tion arena.

With man­age­rial changes di­rected at ad­vanc­ing stu­dents with­out balancing this with sup­port­ing re­sources, aca­demic staff mem­bers have per­formed their pro­fes­sion in an en­vi­ron­ment of heavy work­loads, es­ca­lat­ing num­bers of meet­ings and un­prece­dented ad­min­is­tra­tive du­ties.

All of th­ese hin­der the sus­tained, pro­duc­tive face-to-face in­ter­ac­tion needed to teach and su­per­vise in­creas­ingly mul­ti­far­i­ous un­der- and post­grad­u­ates, whose het­ero­gene­ity, lev­els of pre­pared­ness and mo­ti­va­tions re­quire nu­anced ap­proaches and epis­temic sen­si­tiv­i­ties.

With­out the aca­demic staff there would be no aca­demic wheel to turn, no univer­sity to at­tend, no one to en­hance the sci­en­tific rep­u­ta­tion and re­search stand­ing of our coun­try, and no role mod­els for the stu­dents.

If aca­demic staff are not given the voice and space to re­alise each stu­dent’s full potential, no amount of tax­pay­ers’ money or man­agers, nor the re­cently ap­pointed higher ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter, Hlengiwe Mkhize, will make one jot of dif­fer­ence to stu­dent ac­cess and suc­cess.

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