Hebrew University 88.
(photo credit: )
Hundreds of "external lecturers" have been informed that their Spring semester salaries will be delayed for three months because of changes to the academic calendar caused by the recently settled senior lecturers' strike.
The state universities began their 2007-08 academic year last week, some 90 days late, due to the Senior Lecturers Union strike that ended on January 18.
The delay has meant that an estimated 4,500 nontenured external lecturers, who are fired and rehired each year in order to deny them the benefits of long-term employment, will not earn salaries from February - when the Spring semester was supposed to begin - until May, the semester's new start date.
According to a letter circulated by the Forum for the Protection of Public Education, this has meant that external lecturers, who taught their classes during the Fall semester, suddenly find themselves without a salary for three months, and forced to cancel jobs lined up for next summer as the Spring semester will run late.
Letters were sent over the past few days by at least two universities - Bar-Ilan and Tel Aviv - notifying the lecturers of the delay, days before the Spring salaries would have begun to be paid.
The problem, according to a tenured professor at Tel Aviv University, "is the whole phenomenon" of hiring lecturers for single semesters, something that universities are forced to do due to the dearth of faculty positions.
"It's a way of getting around labor laws, denying them social benefits," the professor, who preferred to remain anonymous, told The Jerusalem Post.
"More importantly, besides avoiding the necessary step of adding faculty positions," - external lecturers make up half the teaching staff at the public universities - "by forcing these people to work at menial jobs [during school breaks], you're losing them as researchers. The further they are from the frontiers of research, the older the material they teach becomes. We all pay a price," the professor said.
A Tel Aviv University representative told the Post the move came because of the delayed school year, nothing more. "No one is being fired. But, as expected, the employment is being delayed," the representative said.
Employment delay letters have been sent to external lecturers from Tel Aviv and Bar-Ilan universities, but not, as reported in the Hebrew media on Sunday, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.