"Many American colleges and universities, like manufacturing and technology firms, regularly "outsource" jobs to save on labor costs and have been doing so for years: dining services, physical plant maintenance, parking services, and the list goes on. Outsourcing teaching is also a familiar phenomenon for many four-year colleges and universities." (...) "the shift from the traditional tenure model of academic labor to the contingent academic labor model is itself a form of outsourcing".
Herhjemme kender vi jo til hudløshed fænomenet 'akademiske løsarbejdere' der på daglejerbetingelser arbejder i årevis med at undervise på specielle kurser, som enten ingen af de fastansatte VIP har lyst til at undervise på (fx basale redskabskurser i bachelordelen) eller er kvalificerede til (fx nye specialkurser på nye uddannelser eller kurser som kræver særlige, fx tværdisciplinære kompetencer som ingen af den faste stab fuldt ud besidder).
Artiklen beskriver også mere ekstreme tilfælde af 'for-profit' universiteter, hvis hele organisering og virke er indrettet på at tjene penge; University of Phoenix er her skræmmebilledet. Mange af disse profituniversiteter (for nu at bruge et dansk ord) har sat sig på markedet for on-line uddannelser, hvor de konkurrerer med de traditionelle. Eileen Schell: "distance education as a market is not confined to the private-for-profit sector.(...) most traditional colleges and universities have also developed online courses, setting up "for-profit subsidiaries" in the hopes of literally keeping up with the Jones—like Jones International University". Schell diskuterer de modsat rettede historier om succes eller deroute for løst ansatte akademikere, som begiver sig ind på on-line markedet. Hun kritiserer "trivialization of contingent academic labor and a dismissal of any collective approaches to changing its conditions" og forestillingen om, at "Contingency is to be accepted, capitalized upon, and celebrated. This entrepreneurial rhetoric of the happy adjunct plays right into the entrepreneurial rhetoric of outsourcing and online education".
Hendes artikel slutter med at diskutere de nye muligheder internettet giver for at organisere ikke bare lærere, men også studerende i kampen for bedre vilkår, karakteristisk kaldet open-source unionism – hun har set "many students joining in the struggle to organize contingent faculty and educate the general public about the working conditions of non-tenure-line faculty. If the collective voice of students can be joined with that of contingent faculty and with full-time faculty as well, we have a fighting chance."
Robin May Schott her på bloggen har sendt mig sin reaktion på artiklen (og har godkendt indlægget her). Robin skriver, "the article focusses on the following problem areas:
1) for-profit education
2) on-line education
3) adjunct faculty
4) work-place environment
5) labor organizing in academia
So one might ask, which of these factors are relevant in Denmark, or in Europe more generally?" — og Robin May Schott svarer :
"1) For-profit education is hardly relevant in Denmark. There have been new masters courses for professionals in which students (or their employers) are charged fees, in contrast to public education. But this isn't a for-profit institution as such. (The courses often don't make a profit, and the universities are not for-profit.) I will say that I was teaching in Tirana, Albania this spring, where this phenomenon is quite widespread, for example, New York University of Tirana. It is a major issue of how to address this development. On the one hand, for-profit universities can easily be a money-making scam that makes empty promises to students about the recognition that their degree will have. I met many people who insisted that these for-profit universities were an abomination. On the other hand, and to be fair, I met two people working in such institutions who defended them. One claimed that it was easier to make changes in the small for-profit universities than in the large conservative public universities, still bearing the inheritance of the old bureaucracies. One issue facing these academics was the two-tiered pay-scale. People with foreign academic positions were paid on salaries comparable to foreign salaries. The locals were paid by local standards. The difference is huge.
The issues regarding for-profit universities are academic legitimacy, credibility and pay equity. And of course, there is the general issue of how education in developing countries can be used as a field of exploitation for students who long to fulfil the dreams associated with Western countries.
2) As for on-line education, this is beginning to develop in Europe I expect, though I don't know that much of it in Denmark. There are courses and programs that cross geographical distances, but these are not exclusively on-line. The phenomenon is much more developed in the U.S.
3) The issue of adjunct faculty is, however, a major problem in Denmark that we all know about. And one can go on and on about this. It shows lack of vision and commitment on all levels of educational policy.
4) The issue of work place environment is also a major issue at many Danish institutes. Having been housed for years at a department at KU, I could say a mouthful about that. Issues here involve lack of gender equity and diversity, lack of resources, lack of leadership, etc.
5) The issue of union organizing in academia, however, is a moot issue in Denmark. There is nothing comparable to the welfare system in the U.S. Even ph.d. students here are offered reasonable salaries. I have not become engaged in union debates to know how adequately they function. But I have had experiences with unemployment, and that is of course an exercise in humiliation."
Der er hermed lagt op til diskussion, også af spørgsmålet om organisering af de universitets- (løst og mere-eller-mindre-fast) ansatte. Dette er jo ikke en fagforeningsblog og vi kan frit rose og/eller kritisere fagforeningernes (somme tider noget spage) rolle i hele den universitære forandringsproces, vi iagttager, og enkelte af os, fx Heine, har efterlyst en anden type, mere professionsorienteret interesseorganisation. Skal denne kun omhandle forskning, eller også undervisning? Og kan en sådan repræsentere både fastansatte professorer og undervisningsassistenter på daglejervilkår?