The paradoxes and pressures of trying to maintain academic professionalism in Higher Education

Authors: Haywood, H., Nixon, E. and Scullion, R.

Start date: 5 December 2018

In UK HE where students are increasingly constructed as consumers, little is written about the corresponding academic conceptualisation; the lecturer as service provider. Whilst some authors embrace such metaphors, others identify negative behavioural consequences. This interpretivist study of academics seeks to examine the notion of academic as service worker by examining how academics experience interactions with students and how these influence their professional identities. Early data interpretation reveals themes of boundary setting in student encounters; the need to regulate emotions; and evidence of self-exploitation suggesting academics are complicit in extra responsibilities and how this contributes to new forms of academic labour. A final theme depicts an idealised version of academia as a coping mechanism. Market pressures are reshaping what it means to be an academic, forcing them to face the many paradoxes of maintaining professionalism characterised through their everyday experiences of being squeezed both by managerialism and rising student expectations.

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