The OU centre for STEM pedagogy
Staff Tutors within the STEM Faculty form a large part of the academic workforce and are described as the glue between central academics and students, however the role is varied and complex. Alongside their management of Associate Lecturers, they contribute to the running of their respective departments in terms of module presentation and production, together with maintaining research, scholarship and outreach activities.
Given the diverse nature of the role, which has a large focus on managerial tasks, access to opportunities which enable career progression is an area of concern. Each of the departments within STEM have submitted Athena SWAN applications and the Staff Tutor role has been highlighted in feedback to these submissions as a group of staff who need further investigation; the Staff Tutor role attracts a large proportion of women in STEM.
This analysis was constructed to investigate the reasons behind a predominantly female Staff Tutor population and to assess whether there were differences between the departments in STEM in terms of their recognition and support of Staff Tutors, with the aim sharing good practice throughout the faculty. However the analysis raised wider issues in terms of how the managerial role, which Staff Tutors unanimously agree is of paramount importance, needs appropriate recognition and support by the University in order to retain this group of staff.
The recommendations of this report highlighted the desire for more administrative support, robust cover arrangements, and in particular routine online access to meetings, all of which would mean that Staff Tutors are better placed to devote more time to research, scholarship and outreach, areas where academics need to engage for their career development. Routine online attendance at meetings also enables all Staff Tutors to have equity in terms of exposure level to new opportunities and the ability to contribute, at all levels, in the University. The new promotions criteria is also highlighted as an area that needs urgent review and monitoring for Staff Tutors.