22 SES 09 C, Academic Work and Professional Development
This presentation will focus on the experiences of new International Academic Staff (IAS*) at one British university. Although our current research project focuses primarily on the challenges that new IAS have to face in their new working environment and the coping strategies that they have to employ, this research has also direct implications for the quality of students’ experience and the universities’ teaching standards. It has been argued in the literature (Green & Myatt, 2011) that challenges encountered by new IAS in their personal and professional environment can become sources of significant stress and, among other issues, impair new staff’s ability to work efficiently and align their teaching with the local pedagogic practices.
The University of Bedfordshire (UoB), like other British universities, employ a significant proportion of IAS but it is suggested that it is unclear what support is being offered to them and anecdotal evidence indicate that the level of support may depend mainly on line managers and mentors and vary across the university. It is argued that in order to fully utilise new IAS ‘talent and cultural richness’ (Dandridge, 2010) better CPD mechanisms need to be employed. Our university Learner Experience Strategy (point 5, p. 4) suggests that it is important to ‘review and revise the learning experience at key transition points, to ensure that it provides the best possible preparation for later achievement’. It can be argued that the academia is a place for learning not only for the students but also for the staff and that new IAS are at the key transition point upon joining a new pedagogic environment. Providing a well-tailored support can make this transition smoother and helping staff understand local system better can have a positive effect on their pedagogic practice and work effectiveness. New IAS, just like our new students, may require assistance in understanding local pedagogic approaches (often implicitly embedded in our practice, rarely discussed or explained) and may also require a more transparent definition of their role and responsibilities as teachers and scholars as well as academic tutors – a form of contact with students which may be alien to many IAS. Helping IAS to understand the core values and pedagogic ways of working in a foreign institution can prepare them better for engagement in such activities as, for example, course and subject review.
Therefore, in our inquiry, we were guided with the following research questions:
- What are the professional and personal experiences of new IAS at the UoB?
- What institutional support IAS at the UoB perceive as available to them? Is this support sufficient and adequate to them?
- What are the challenges that IAS encounter and the strategies employed in dealing/ copying in them?
This presentation will draw on the literature review we are currently conducting to provide the audience with an overview of knowledge and most up-to-date examples of practice as well as recommendations. Moreover, it will give an overall picture of professional and personal experiences of our non-UK born academic staff at the UoB and highlight the most common challenges they face. It will also discuss the support available as well as offer suggestions for improvements in this area, based on the findings from our research.
*Please note by IAS we mean any foreign born academic staff, not only those who require a visa or work permit to live and work in the UK. Therefore, we also include academics from within the EU.
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