Resisting teaching at the expense of research: experiences of teaching academics

Bev Rogers, Katharine Swain

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


The experiences of academics caught up in the rise of teaching academic (teaching only) roles in Australia, the UK, the USA, and Canada, are not well documented in the literature (Bennett, Roberts, Ananthram, & Broughton, 2018). This paper describes the experiences of academics in a recent restructure (2017-ongoing) at Flinders University in South Australia, in which a large number of ‘balanced’ academics were ‘forced’ into voluntary redundancies or accepting Teacher Specialist (TS) roles. The TS roles were designed to exclude research in favour of ‘scholarship’ and limit access to Higher Degree Research (HDR) supervision as a primary or associate supervisor. Probert (2015) asks whether this is, in reality, a strategic efficiency measure that has less to do with teaching excellence than with improving research rankings. Zipin and Brennan (2019, p. 1) point to an environment of hyper-competition which induces strategizing by universities to “employ fewer but ‘higher-producing’ researchers”, thus separating research and teaching. The actual experiences of TS in the last six months have concurred with a common finding of “the perceived low value of the teaching academic (TA) role and confusion about what the role entails” (Bennett et al., 2018, p. 271). In this paper, we identify our struggle to identify a sense of hopefulness in the future of the role in the absence of detail and support by the University. We explore the creation of the TS role in the restructure as a localised regime of truth (Gore, 1993), examining and understanding possibilities for resistance which contest and detach from the subjectivity which is constituted and imposed. Contesting the form of subjectivity “in order to build an other subjectivity is not an easy task … [since the mechanisms of power give] the impression that there is no real choice to be made” (Cremonesi, Irrera, Lorenzini, & Tazzioli, 2016, p. 72). We highlight the importance of academics talking and working collectively and struggling beyond what is currently offered, which is beyond the recognition and angst of the ‘toxic university’ (Smyth, 2017) and also beyond the acceptance and growing familiarity of the TS truth regime which misunderstands the importance of teaching informed by research/scholarship (Zipin & Brennan, 2019). There seems to be, as Butler (2009) highlights, two aspects—resistance of TS as imposed which opens a space for an invention of a different form of TS subject embedded in a research/teaching nexus.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2019
EventAustralian Association for Research in Education Conference 2019: Education for a Socially Just World - Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 1 Dec 20195 Dec 2019


ConferenceAustralian Association for Research in Education Conference 2019
Abbreviated titleAARE 2019
Internet address


  • teaching academics
  • teacher specialist role


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