The Times Higher Education. Undoubtedly the newspaper of my profession. And yet I’m now feeling rather unwelcome there.
Why? Well as regular readers (!) will have noticed, I’ve recently joined Twitter. Looking around at suitable people to follow, I found THE were regular tweeters, and decided to follow them. A lot of their tweets led to interesting articles on their website, and in order to read those I had to register on their site.
One of the pieces of information they collect during the registration process is job title. So I started looking down the list. “Academic” was not there. I looked on, past “Lecturer” and “Professor”, past “Reader” and “Researcher” (both Junior and Senior), past “Student” and then onto “Vice-Chancellor / Principal”.
“Hang on”, I thought. “What about the teachers?” Not there. You cannot register with the Times Higher Education as a “Teaching Fellow”, “Teaching Assistant” or “Teacher”. I had to register as “Other”.
It would appear that anyone with research as part of their job description (including “Research Administrators”, but notably no other administrators) are welcome to register using their real job titles. But anyone whose job starts with the letters ‘T’, ‘E’, ‘A’, ‘C’ and ‘H’ isn’t.
Why does the Times Higher not acknowledge the teaching specialists on the registration form? Could it be that they are, in fact, very rare, and most universities don’t employ them? In which case I’m very lucky to be employed here: in the department where I work there are more Teaching Fellows than Readers (and Lecturers only outnumber us by one).
If it’s not rarity, then I’m really struggling to think of a good reason, especially in these days when teaching quality seems to be becoming a real issue for universities. Someone more paranoid than me could even interpret this as yet another symptom of the traditional priority given to research activities.
BTW I did contact THE about this, and received a polite reply saying that they would bear this issue in mind when they next review the registration process. I’ll keep an eye out to see if anything happens.