For the love of God, I do not have a six week summer holiday…

Categories HE Sector, Learning & Teaching

There’s no point in having a blog if you can’t get things off your chest. So here it is for this week – I’m being driven mad by the number of people asking me if I’m now off for six weeks like teachers. I’m not a teacher! I do not have a gaping summer vacation! Stop asking that every year!

For sure, I take time off over the summer, and that’s important, but it’s also a key period for getting things done, as others have also pointed out. Oftentimes during the teaching period, there’s a lot of operational work to do, so you end up saving the some of the bigger, more problematic jobs for the times when our students (and staff) aren’t around on campus. This makes the summer period pretty busy. So for example, this week alone I have had two approval events, Chaired an Advisory Group for a HEFCE funded project, done some training, rejigged our Extended Year delivery, given an L&T presentation to our Chinese guests, and been to and from London for a research project meeting. And later on in the summer I’m working on a research project and grant bid, revising School QA documentation, setting our L&T priorities for the next year and getting our Welcome Week ready. I’m also supporting some of our big infrastructural jobs to enhance our students’ experience – like upgrading the labs and creating a wondrous new social learning space in our building:

And looking back, this time last year we spent our summer sorting out and resourcing our anthropology lab. Oh, and lets not forget that we still have our Masters students working away here, and my PhD students are just as demanding over the summer months as they are during the rest of the year…

I know people don’t mean to annoy me when they ask if I’m off for six weeks, but part of the reason it grates is because it chimes with comments like those recently from Lord Adonis who stated that he felt that university staff don’t teach enough. These comments are as ill-informed as they are unhelpful, and his example of being at Oxford back in the day is so hilariously inappropriate for our current increasingly marketised higher education sector that many academics could only respond with dripping sarcasm.

So I’ll say it again before someone else asks – no, we do not get a six week holiday over the summer. Right – that’s it off my chest until next summer then…

I’m a Professor of Applied Biological Anthropology at Teesside University.