Higher education academics' satisfaction with their terms and conditions of service and their job satisfaction: A case study

  • KJ Mammen


This article originates from a research conducted at a Historically Disadvantaged Institution (HDI) in South Africa. Academics (those who teach) at higher education institutions (HEIs) are usually highly qualified personnel. Their satisfaction with the terms and conditions of service and the job satisfaction they derive from and through their work may affect their commitment to the quality of the services they offer. Qualitative research designs adopt the stance that those factors which the academics themselves regard as relevant and important must be given the focus rather than the researcher's pre-conceptions or a priori influencing what factors are important. The method employed to gather data was qualitative and this is a case study. The sample consisted of 28 academics who constituted 60 per cent of the members of academic staff in the Faculty of Science. Data were collected through one-to-one interviews. The freezing of salary increases which resulted in academics' effective income (due to inflation) being less than that in 1995 was identified as the major cause of dissatisfaction with the conditions of service. However, the data show that 61 per cent academics had either `Above average' or better satisfaction with the terms and conditions of their service. The data also show that only 43 per cent academics had `Above average' or better job satisfaction. The students being not serious or not working hard enough to succeed in their courses was identified as the major cause of job-dissatisfaction. Six factors were identified as those reducing both satisfaction with the conditions of service and job satisfaction. These were, uncertainty about the continuity of the institution; inefficiency or dissatisfaction with poor management and problems within the senior management staff of the institution itself; problems with financial administration, weak research support, unhappiness with lack of promotion opportunities and finally, high workload. It is suggested that on the national level, the management of other HEIs may also gauge the satisfaction of their academic as well as non-academic employees and specifically investigate the factors which either cause dissatisfaction or reduce satisfaction so that they can attempt to address the concerns raised through their studies. Each institution has its own context. The context and factors may vary between Faculties within the same institution, between different institutions and also between the various campuses of the same institution considering the post-merger higher education scenario.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 20(4) 2006: pp.466-477

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