Fixed-term and temporary : teaching fellows, tactics and the negotiation of contingent labour in the UK Higher Education system
journal contributionposted on 08.10.2014, 15:54 by K. A. Peters, Jennifer Elizabeth Turner
This paper autobiographically considers the role of teaching-only staff as a contingent labour force in the contemporary Higher Education system in the UK. The aims of this paper are twofold. First, whilst much attention has been paid to the role of the research fellow, there has been less consideration, in the UK context, of the Teaching Fellow as an alternate form of postdoctoral experience. Accordingly, this paper gives voice to the Teaching Fellow – a member of academic staff who is not allocated writing and research time as part of their contract – whose views are often marginalised in on-going debates concerning the plays of power in the neo-liberalised academy. Second, the paper raises these voices to bring into consciousness the impacts of Teaching Fellow experience for the Fellow themselves and the faculties they work in. It is argued that Teaching Fellows face challenging circumstances in view of their onwards career trajectories in the academy. Accordingly, this paper considers the ways in which Fellows, through tactics of place making, presence and visibility, and collaboration, negotiate the challenging structural and institutional conditions that underscore their contracts. It is contended that exploring the teaching-only workforce is vital for critically assessing the workings of the contemporary academy and questioning the unequal power relations that underscore work places in a culture where contingent labour is expanding; becoming less of a fixed-term and temporary feature of the university system, but rather a stable and enduring one.