22 SES 12 C, Academic Work and Professional Development
Universities have an important impact on the development of countries. Well-developed countries support higher education in not only funding of scientific research but also in terms of personnel rights of the academicians. Therefore, improvement of each construct of higher education system has crucial importance for all countries (Acar, 2013; OECD, 2013). Like any organization, universities are influenced by human relationships. These are a kind of employment relationships. Framework of relationship between employee and employer are determined by psychological contract. Schein (1980) defines psychological contract as unwritten reciprocal expectations between employee and employer (Anderson and Schalk, 1998). If psychological contract works effectively between two groups, then both of them will get mutual benefits. Perceived psychological contract breach occurs when those on one side of contract perceive the others to have failed to implement promised obligations (Robinson & Rousseau, 1994).
Knowing psychological contracts and preventing contract breaches between the universities and academicians would provide opportunity to improve higher education system in Turkey, helping Turkey become a well-developed country. However, violation of personnel rights of academicians affects Turkish higher education system negatively, leading to problems in reaching educational targets such as raising sufficient number of qualified academicians for newly opened universities in Turkey. Those who successfully graduate from college are diverting into other career options instead of training in academia because the salary of assistants is much lower than other occupations. Also, professors give additional courses to earn extra income instead of developing projects, educating assistants or conducting scientific research because their salary is too low when compared to salary of other occupation groups (Eğitim Bir-Sen, 2013).
In the law of higher education council (1981), research assistants were defined as teaching assistants who do research, analysis, experiment, and other duties given by authorized people in higher education organizations. In the same law, research assistants were categorized into two staff positions. The first one is 33/a article and research assistants dependent on this article have a permanent staff position. The second one is 50/d and research assistants dependent on this article have a temporary position. In recent years, this law went through some changes. To illustrate, ÖYP (academician training program of Turkey) has begun to take the position of 33/a. In other words, universities have begun to choose ÖYP research assistants instead of article 33/a research assistants. Both ÖYP research assistants and 33/a article research assistants have permanent staff positions but ÖYP has some advantages such as a special budget that is given assistants for research expenses, and a guaranteed faculty position in a university after graduation.
Research assistants as beginners of academia have importance because they produce scientific studies and projects to complete their development in the career system. Moreover, they are trained by professors of today to teach students in their field in the future. However, research assistants frequently express that their rights are been violated. Their salaries are much lower compared to other occupations. Moreover, research assistants dependent on 50/d are thrown out of work when their term of office that is related to period of doctoral education is completed so they are becoming unemployed with a doctoral degree. Therefore, this concern may affect their performance in work and their perspective of academic career negatively. (Korkut, Yalçınkaya & Muştan, 1999). Given these conditions, the aim of the current study is to analyze perceived psychological contract breach of research assistants. As a result, this exploration is significant as it highlights obstacles to educating qualified academicians.
Do research assistants in METU have a perceived psychological contract breach?
Does psychological contract breach change in terms of status (ÖYP, 50-d) of research assistants?
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