I have just checked my personal teaching account, wondering whether hours I’m owed had been finally counted. Yes, whoever does this has entered the hours corresponding to my supervision of a PhD dissertation (or is it for two dissertations? I’m confused). Not yet, however, the 21 hours corresponding to the three BA dissertations submitted in the current academic year. Whatever the case, UAB considers that the total count of hours I have taught this year amounts to 211% of my expected workload (plus the 21 hours…, etc.).
Technically, I have worked in class for 150 hours (I teach three subjects, as my Coordination duties allow me to drop one of the four I should teach –or not really, as UAB doesn’t apply to me last year’s Wert Decree, which they should). Add to this 21 for the BA dissertations, 60 for the PhD dissertation(s), 9 for an MA collaboration, 10 more for an MA dissertation soon to be submitted… UAB’s teaching accountants have determined that teachers’ workload should be worked out in part on the basis of the number of students we have in class, which is only fair. Thus, my biggish ‘Victorian Literature’ and ‘20th Century Literature’ classes (around 60 each) are actually enough to cover all my workload, and I seem to have taught ‘for free’ all the rest.
I must clarify that the acknowledged 211% dedication has no effect whatsoever on my teaching for 2013-14, that is to say, I cannot ask for a ‘reduction’ to compensate for this year’s excess. Why’s that, since common sense would dictate the opposite? Well, easy: we don’t have enough teaching resources to make up for what I’d drop. The English Literature section –11 teachers, only 5 of us tenured, the remaining 6 part time adjuncts–will be teaching next year only 7 electives (we must teach a minimum of 5 to guarantee the Literature and Culture itinerary). Since I’m not the only one in the section above the 100% mark (most of us are there), if we all ask that our teaching hours to be evened out next year, we’d be in very deep red numbers and the whole section would collapse at all levels.
Obviously, we need more teachers, that is as plain as daylight, for we 11 can no longer sustain the weight of teaching the BA and the MA and supervising BA, MA and PhD dissertations. We’re giving plenty away for free, whether we’re tenured or just adjuncts and this is, simply, a shame. This is, however, a no-win situation for if we complain, as I’m doing here, the authorities that be will find a quick solution: drop the BA, put an end to group-size below 60 (a luxury it seems, despite our intensive continuous assessment in English). Be a worse section and Department for nobody cares, and, anyway, people also got ‘Licenciaturas’ in the good old days of 200 students per class and lecturing with no student participation (some Departments are still stuck there).
This is particularly galling in the current situation in which so much part-time staff between the ages of 35 and 45 is waiting for much-deserved tenure. In September, for instance, our Professor of American Studies is retiring but she is to be replaced with an adjunct with the lowest possible contract (I’m told this is 600 euros a month, after taxes, for the same amount of hours our Professor has been teaching). If you consider that this Professor is the highest paid teacher in the Department, given her very long seniority, you will soon realise that much would be saved even by hiring full time one of our adjuncts (four have the corresponding accreditations).
Instead, the policy of saving the maximum amount of money is resulting in, well, my 211% (and that of many others, I know). The 211%, by the way, might also possibly explains why I feel so tired this summer and why it’s being so hard to focus on the research that I have left aside for too long. To think that I call myself a researcher is beginning to be a bit of a joke…
Comments are very welcome! (Thanks!) Just remember that I check them first for spam; it might take a few days for yours to be available. If you like my blog, you can subscribe using the RSS feed (right-hand column, below Blogroll.) You’ll get an email message for every new post. VISIT MY WEB: http://gent.uab.cat/saramartinalegre/