Universities rely on cut-rate, part-time lecturers

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Universities rely on cut-rate, part-time lecturers

Almost half of the classes at 38 universities in Seoul are taught by part-time instructors paid on an hourly basis, raising concerns about the exploitation of teachers in institutions of higher education.

According to the Center for Freedom of Information and Transparent Society, a civic group, 38 four-year universities in the capital used nontenured, part-time instructors for 46.6 percent of their classes on average last year.

The part-time teachers sign a contract each semester and are paid an average of 60,000 won ($55.80) for an hour of teaching. But the number of hours doesn’t add up to a decent salary, research shows.

The school that used contract lecturers the most was Seoul Christian University, which had 69 percent of its classes taught by temporary teachers. At Chugye University for the Arts, 68.1 percent of the classes had temporary lecturers. The school with the lowest number of classes taught by part-time instructors was Hanyoung Theological University, with 33.7 percent.

The country’s elite Seoul National University had 44.7 percent of classes taught by temporary teachers while Korea University had 48.4 percent.

Of the 38 Seoul universities, only eight schools had less than 40 percent of lectures given by contracted instructors.

The nonprofit civic group said that by relying on part-time instructors, the schools are not providing them “due teaching status.”

“The survey shows that nearly half of the lectures at universities in Seoul are taught by part-time instructors without giving them due rights as teachers,” it said.

According to the Ministry of Education last year, part-time instructors at 189 four-year universities nationwide earned a measly 6.04 million won in annual income, about 14 percent that of tenured professors, who averaged 42.9 million won. Part-time teachers have no job security and are at risk of losing their positions every six months.

Temporary teachers have long demanded improvements in their working conditions as well as an increase in the number of tenured professors.

An association of part-time teachers at Korea University has been waging a protest in a tent set up on campus since Feb. 2012, demanding a raise in the hourly teaching fee from 51,800 won.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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