Eli Ridder | Analysis

The majority of academic faculty employed via a contract at universities and colleges across Canada are not in that position by choice, but instead seek more permanent position, according to survey results released on Tuesday.

Numbers from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, or CAUT, show that 53 per cent of the 2,600 contract faculty who responded to the online survey want a tenure-track university or full time, permanent college employment.

Read the full survey results here: Results PDF

However, a quarter of respondents said they do not want tenure or a full-time spot, with the remaining of those surveyed saying they were unsure.

Some two-thirds of contract faculty answered that their mental health has been negatively impacted by the contingent nature of their positions and some 19 per cent believe the institutions where they work are “model employers” and supporters of solid employment.

The survey also found that women and radicalized contract faculty work more hours per course per week than their colleagues and are more likely to be in low-income households.

“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.”

Contract faculty are a swiftly growing segment in the Canadian academic workforce, with the number of university teachers working part-time, part-of-the-year increasing by 79 per cent from 2005 to 2015, according to CAUT.

The workforce of regular professors increased by a smaller margin of 14 per cent over the same decade as the student population rose by 28 per cent.

“Administrators are increasingly — and wrongly — replacing what should be full-time permanent jobs with a patchwork of lower-paid, short-term contracts,” said Mr. Robinson.

“The growing reliance by administrators on CAS is unfair to CAS and to their students.”

The CAUT survey was open to those that taught at least one course during the 2016-17 academic year in any Canadian post-secondary institution.


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Written by Eli Ridder

Eli Ridder is a journalism student at the University of Guelph-Humber and a senior correspondent for multiple independent publications including, but not limited to, The Anon Journal, Berning Media Network and the Ribbon. Find out more at eliridder.ca

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