Over the next few months, the University will be discussing with the National Tertiary Education Union and staff the development of a new Academic Workload Model for academic staff within Higher Education. I must be open and state that, in the past, I have never been a great supporter of such models. My fear has always been that, if not structured properly, they can turn a community of scholars into a factory of clock watchers. It is important that we ensure this does not happen in developing such a model.
Having raised my reservations, I was very keen that as part of the last Enterprise Bargaining process we include the development of such a model. The reason for this is that I believe that academic life is becoming much more diverse. In such an environment, it is critical that we value the diversity of roles. How do we get the balance correct between staff who have: a major focus on teaching or a major focus on research or a combination of the two? How do we recognise the different amounts of administration or community interaction activities undertaken by staff? It is important that we can answers such questions and critically important that we can reward performance and ensure staff are treated fairly, irrespective of the details of their roles.
Noting these issues, I believe such a model needs to incorporate at least the following: be comparable between faculties, include definitions of research activity, not be excessively complex but account for the broad major activities of academic life (teaching, research, administration, service).
I have asked Professor Shirley Leitch to lead the development for the University and we will be seeking broad input from staff during the process.