Universities encouraged to take care

Thursday, 13. December 2018

Valuable role: Dr Marie-Pierre Moreau said there was a “misrecognition” of care work as ” a disturbance”. She will speak from 1pm on Thursday in HB13 at Callaghan.UNIVERSITIES need to provide moresupport to academics who juggle their careers with caring for children or elderly or disabled relatives, according to a visiting scholar.
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The University of Roehampton’s Dr Marie-Pierre Moreau will speak at the University of Newcastle on Thursday about her recent research project, whichfocused on how a university’s policies affect academic staff who are carers, plus how an academic’s caring responsibilities affect their careers and lives.

“There’s a general lack of awareness and that’s to do with the history of higher education, where traditionally it was a male scholar who didn’t have any caring responsibilities or was able to rely on the support of his spouse to undertake the care work,” Dr Moreau said.

“We still have this ongoing care-free culture, so often caring responsibilities are dealt with on an individual level rather than in the workplace and that contributes to make them invisible.”

Dr Moreau said while academics were“relatively privileged”, their profession was also “very greedy on your time”.

She said she had found the degree of support universities provided to academic carers was usually “quite modest” and depended on “how flexible and supportive your line manager is”.

She said there was also a “hierarchy of care”, with more support provided to academics with visible caring responsibilities, for children.

“If you have an elderly father who lives on the other side of the country, it’s up to you to make appropriate arrangements.”

The result, she said, wasacademics who may feel drained, emotional and distracted.

“If universities want to continue to attract the best people, then they need to be accommodating and acknowledge they’re not care-free workers, they do have responsibilities outside the workplace.”

DrMoreau suggested universities regularly collect data on their staff’s caring responsibilities and use this to inform more inclusive policies.

“What will be the different effects on carers and non carers? Make sure care is embedded in every policy and that policies are reviewed before they’redeveloped to make sure they’re not [adversely] affecting carers.”

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