New report on sessional faculty in Ontario universities

Posted on August 15, 2016 by in CIHE Research

This report was prepared by a team from OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) for presentation to the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development. It was later published in CIHE (Canadian & International Higher Ed) Blog.

The report was based on a survey of 7814 sessional instructors at 12 universities in Ontario and was able to achieve an overall response rate of 21.5%. The rationale for the two-year study was that there was little or no data on sessional university instructors at a time when universities have evidenced an unprecedented increase in sessional hiring. Across the board, it is apparent that because of a lack of funding, institutions of higher learning are becoming increasingly reliant on sessional instructors.

The study first noticed some considerable demographic shifts. The first was that female sessionals have become predominant with a percentage of 60.2%; and that second, the number of instructors with PhDs has risen to 66.4%.

It then made an interesting distinction between the “classic,” part-time sessionals and a newer category which it termed “precarious,” this latter being those instructors who have no other means of support and who view academic teaching as a full-time career option.

Its conclusions include the findings that modern sessionals are passionate teachers who favour teaching over research. But there are other very interesting results as well. A high percentage of the respondents commented on the lack of job stability, inordinately high class sizes, and ill-fitting classroom layouts, all of which affect teaching outcomes.

Read the full report.