Go to contents

Two Thousand Two Hundred Sixty-eight Non-tenure Track Professors on the Edge

Two Thousand Two Hundred Sixty-eight Non-tenure Track Professors on the Edge

Posted October. 18, 2006 03:02,   


H (50, preschool education) became a professor at K university last March. He had worked as a part-time instructor for 20 years and only recently secured a regular job.

However, there are some differences between him and the other professors. He has to share an office, has no teacher assistant assigned to him, and was not promised an age limit. He has to achieve a notable academic deed in order to be reviewed in a re-appointment board next year, but he has to personally provide all the expenses to conduct research.

He can attend professors’ assemblies but doesn’t have any say.

H is a non-tenure track professor. He works as an instructor according to the contract and is re-appointed every one or two years. He can only work for no longer than six years.

Non-tenure track professors assume charge of social education classes for the public and night classes, which typically are reluctantly handled by regular professors. Regular professors work about 6-9 hours a week, but H works 15 hours.

The number of non-tenure track professors has been rapidly increasing lately. The universities are hiring more non-tenure track professors to cut their budget, which ultimately contributes to poorer quality of the professors’ studies and the exploitation of them.

Current Status-

Lee Ju-ho, a member of the Grand National Party and the Assembly Education Council, conducted an investigation on the appointment of new professors from 2004-2006 over 195 universities. The results showed that more than half of the universities (104 universities, 53.3 percent) hired 2,177 non-tenure track professors. The number of non-tenure track professors was only 384 from 41 universities in 2004. But the number has gradually increased to 956 from 89 schools last year and 837 from 104 universities in the first half this year. The number of schools is 2.6 fold greater compared to 2004, and the number of people is more than six times higher.

There are 2,268 non-tenure track professors working in 104 universities, including the ones appointed in 2003. The average teaching time is 10.9 hours a week, which is relatively more than regular professors, but they are paid only 79.3 percent on average compared to regular professors. However, this result is calculated based on basic pay, and it is known to be only half if considering an actual pay including allowances.

Hongik University Has the Most-

There have been a few non-tenure track professors before 2003, but their appointment has been spread to all universities since Yonsei University began hiring them in 2003. The university with the most non-tenure track professors is Hongik University with 168 people over three years, followed by Kyung Hee University (104), Yonsei University (82), Cheongju University (74), and Hallym University (73).

The university with the highest percentage of non-tenure track professors was Taeshin Christian University at 64.3 percent (18 people out of 28), followed by Asian Center for Theological Studies and Mission (40.4 percent), Mokpo National University (37.5 percent), and Seoul National University of Education (36.2 percent).

Most of the universities set a rule: non-tenure track professors only can be re-appointed two or three times at the most, for an additional year or two. Only 64.4 percent of the universities provide their non-tenure track professors with research funds, and 58.7 percent allow them to attend faculty meetings.

Reason for the Increase-

Hiring non-tenure track professors is used as a means for universities to reduce labor cost and increase the percentage of instructors. In particular, the number of contracted professors increased because the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development set the percentage of full-time instructors as a main criterion when examining the BK 21 projects and New University for Regional Innovation (NURI) projects.

However, if the percentage of non-tenure track professors increases, the competitiveness of universities will dwindle due to the instability of the professors. The collision between non-tenure track professors and regular professors also matters.

“The hiring of non-tenure track professors only to increase the percentage of teachers is totally against the ministry’s University Structure Reform Policy. It will generate too many side effects in Korea, where the transfer of professors to other universities is not very common,” Lee said.