Do you know what your teacher is paid to do? What kind of contract they are on?
Do you know that teachers at the same university can be paid very different amounts, and that one teacher might be working for a salary while another works for free, or below minimum wage, even if they’re teaching the same classes?
Do you know whether or not your teachers are paid for the time you spend in their office? Or the time they spend making work for student concerts?
For a lot of students, I’m well aware that the answer is no, and this post is for all of you.
Most students don’t get to learn about the differences in different types of teaching contracts unless they’re actively interested in teaching in higher education themselves, and even then they may not know what kind of contract their teacher is on. Students are led to expect the same kinds of work from all of their instructors – teaching, grading, mentoring, one-to-one help etc. but don’t often know who is being paid to meet those expectations and who isn’t. This can lead to perceptions of certain teachers as more caring, or more invested, when in reality it might just be that they’re being paid to provide you more things.
Obviously, this ignorance puts students at a disadvantage. A university with lots of different instructors might look appealing, but if none of them are being paid for class preparation, or advising, or grading, your classes might not be as rich and rewarding. A teacher who is paid to go to conferences will have an advantage when it comes to keeping at the cutting edge of their area. On certain kinds of contract, teachers are paid to do research projects – projects which often provide amazing opportunities for students.
When you look at schools, you should be looking at the kinds of contract that your teachers will be on, and thinking about how that might affect your university experience. This post is designed to help you do just that.
This post is drawn from a lot of different university policies and practices, although it is not exhaustive and will not be accurate in every situation – it is designed to be a useful general guide.
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