Reflecting on the first Education Focussed Symposium

Despite the slightly unfavourable time zone, when the Education Focussed Symposium wound up at 6:00pm New Zealand-time on a Friday evening, there was quite a buzz among the eight Victoria University Wellington teaching-intensive academics who’d been lucky enough to attend, and we kept the conversation going well past dinner time. It also motivated us to get together for a coffee the following week to share further reflections.  

Our pathway is in its infancy – we will celebrate the first anniversary of the first fifteen appointments in early July 2022. But over the last 10 months, our community has both grown, and become more diverse.  Being able to engage with colleagues from around the region helped us better understand our shared challenges, but also showed us that we have already benefitted from this community – our career framework and pathway’s inception have clearly been heavily influenced by it.  

Looking at the meeting’s themes:  workload, culture, promotion, and leadership, we see issues that are top of mind for us, but also ones to which our institution may not be susceptible. I have no doubt the whole university sector is reeling from workload pressures that COVID will only have amplified, and of course, we teaching-intensive academics are no exception. Management and promotion issues are works in progress here and everywhere, by the sounds of it, though it does feel like our late-entry into this sphere may have helped us pre-empt some of the issues that are hampering colleagues in Australia. And, having personally been in faculty and university leadership roles prior to transfer to the pathway, I could see that over time, we will be over-represented in positions which complement an education focus and/or are particularly disruptive to one’s research agenda. Time will tell.

As we continue to re-invent ourselves as teachers in light of changes in student demand, technology and the pandemic, it is so valuable to be part of this conversation.  Whether it is knowing that others have succeeded, or that the ongoing problem is shared, or even that we have a local problem that we’ll need to tackle ourselves – all help provide reassurance in their own way.   

My colleagues and I are deeply grateful for the inclusive culture being established in a highly competitive environment.  We look forward to further sharing our own experiences and career progression, and also to hearing about others’ challenges – both faced and overcome. A special TIP of the hat to UNSW for driving this forward – your leadership is greatly appreciated.


About the author:

John Randal

Professor John Randal, Director, Teaching-Intensive Pathway (TIP), Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

John is a Professor in the School of Economics and Finance. He is partially seconded into a role as Director of the Teaching Intensive Academic Career Pathway, and also serves as the Associate Dean (Students) in the Wellington School of Business and Government.


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