The Income Gap Between Tenure and Adjunct Professors

Posted February 23rd, 2015 By OCUFA

The significant income gap between Canada’s tenured and adjunct professors was profiled by CBC Radio’s Project Money. The show focused on contract professors’ working conditions and how these conditions affect their students.

The income gap between full-time professors and contract faculty members isn’t specific to only one region or province. It’s estimated that contract professors do about half of all university teaching in Canada, according to the CBC.

Erin Black of the University of Toronto’s history department discussed her personal experience as a contract faculty member:

“Sessionals often need to access employment insurance benefits because the nature of our work is such that we’re hired on a course-by-course basis. The insecurity that I have as a sessional lecturer where I never know how much work I’ll have or whether work that I’ve been consistently able to rely on (is) just going to disappear, it’s extraordinarily stressful. I’ve experienced full blown panic attacks.”

Elizabeth Hodgson, a tenured professor at the University of British Columbia, discussed the sharp contrast in working conditions between tenured and contract professors. Unlike their full-time colleagues, contract faculty have less job security, lower pay and no benefits. Students with contract professors are greatly affected by these issues, she said:

“The problem for students has to do with the fact that they count on faculty not just to teach their courses but also to provide them with mentoring and guidance and a kind of support for their own ambitions… People who are teaching in short term contracts are under enormous stress. They’re marking 400 papers a term at three different institutions and they’re racing from class to class to class. They can’t contribute to the development of a curriculum in a department, they can’t add their to administrative decisions. And all of those things affect the quality of the programs students are getting.”

The entire show can be listened to here.


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