The past two decades have witnessed a trend towards the use of fixed-term and part-time contracts in higher education in the UK, where over a third of routine academic work is now carried out by staff on fixed-term contracts (Ainley 1994). As Kogan et al. (1994: 53) have noted, this increased casualisation of academic labour has been driven by the need for universities and colleges to reduce labour costs. The move towards a more ‘flexible’ and cheaper workforce is largely a response to governmental resource restrictions and the need to cope with increased student numbers (Kogan et al. 1994). In order to cope with financial pressures, universities have increasingly sought to diversify their funding and become more entrepreneurial in attracting income from sources other than the government (Wasser 1990; Ziman 1991). External research grants and contracts play an increasingly important role in the finances of many institutions, with a concomitant rise in the number of researchers employed on fixed-term contracts.
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