PBRF changes employment practice

Posted By TEU on May 31, 2012 |

TEU’s branch co-president at Otago University Dr Brent Lovelock says PBRF is affecting the role of academic staff.

“PBRF means that staff are now much busier in terms of doing research, so whether they dedicate as much time to things like lecture planning, I don’t know. And community service? Pfft, it’s dropped off the edge somewhere!”

In an interview with Critic, Dr Lovelock said PBRF has certainly changed the way academic staff work.

“[T]he goal posts have shifted a little bit for some staff members, who were taken on because they might have some special skills in some areas; they may be amazing teachers, or highly qualified practitioners working in areas such as design, social work, or education. For those people, the goal posts shifted when PBRF came along and said, ‘Okay, you’ve all got to do research now, and if you don’t do research, well, there’s the door.'”

The impact of PBRF on teaching quality can be both “positive and negative,” Dr Lovelock told Critic. “Obviously we want teaching to be research-informed, so that students can share the cutting-edge knowledge that research provides. But PBRF puts pressure on staff to produce more and higher quality research….”

However, “management see [PBRF] in a wonderful, glowing light, because it’s a source of funding. Even though it’s not a huge source, it’s still substantial, and it’s a great tool as well, because suddenly every staff member is delegated a score.”

Supposedly, these scores are confidential, but Dr Lovelock suggests otherwise: “To say that the process is confidential is complete nonsense, but it was founded and sold to us on the basis of confidentiality – we were told that nobody would ever know, not even our Heads of Department would be privy to our personal PBRF scores. And that’s a load of crap.”

As far as hiring people goes, Dr Lovelock admits that “these scores are hugely influential on the type of people who will get employed by the University.”

But a good researcher isn’t always the best teacher, is he? “No,” Dr Lovelock asserts, “not at all. And a good teacher isn’t always the best researcher.”

Read the full article here.

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