Most academic staff working on contract at Canadian universities and colleges aren’t employed that way by choice indicates new survey results gathered and released today by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).
According to the survey:
- Over half (53%) of respondents want a tenure-track university or full-time, permanent college job. This is the case even for contract academic staff (CAS) who have been teaching for 16-20 years.
- Only 25% said they do not want a tenure-track or permanent, full-time academic appointment. The remainder are unsure.
- Women and racialized CAS work more hours per course, per week than their colleagues and are more likely to be in low-income households.
- Two-thirds of respondents said their mental health has been negatively impacted by the contingent nature of their employment, and just 19% think the institutions where they work are model employers and supporters of good jobs.
“Until now, we had no clear picture of the working conditions of CAS across the country,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “These results reveal that many CAS are underpaid, overworked and sorely under-resourced. It’s a dismal picture for the majority of these academics, who often feel trapped in a ‘gig lifestyle’ of part-time or insecure work.”
CAS are a swiftly growing segment in the Canadian academic workforce, with the number of university teachers working part-time, part-year expanding by 79% from 2005 to 2015. In contrast, regular professors increased by only 14% and in the same period, the number of students grew by 28%.
“Administrators are increasingly — and wrongly — replacing what should be full-time permanent jobs with a patchwork of lower-paid, short-term contracts,” said Robinson. “The growing reliance by administrators on CAS is unfair to CAS and to their students.”
More than 2,600 CAS responded to the online survey, which was open to those teaching at least one course during the 2016-17 academic year in any Canadian post-secondary institution.