Managing Expectations: A Case Study of Sessional Staff in Languages and Cultures Education in Australian Universities


  • Josh Brown Stockholm University
  • Federica Verdina The University of Western Australia



Casualisation, Expectations, Teaching Support, Language education


In light of the increasing casualisation of the academic workforce in recent years, expectations of sessional staff in Australian universities from their academic employment are becoming more poignant. Following on from a previous report by Ferrari & Hajek (2012), this paper further highlights how these workers are affected by short-term, often only semester-long, contracts. We focus on how the brevity of employment affects sessional teachers’ perceptions of their role and perceived obligations to the university, and consequently the health of languages education. We present the results of an online survey conducted at the vast majority of Australian universities, which investigated sessional staff’s expectations. This study reveals that language sessional staff have expectations of their employment which are often at odds with their role as academics in the university environment.

Author Biographies

Josh Brown, Stockholm University

Josh Brown has recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Italian Studies at Stockholm University and is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Western Australia. His research focuses on casualisation in higher education, as well as how degree structures can positively affect language enrolments. He is working on several topics around these themes with colleagues in Sweden and Australia. Twitter: @giosuemarrone

Federica Verdina, The University of Western Australia

Federica Verdina has recently finished a Ph.D. in Italian Studies at The University of Western Australia and teaches Italian language and culture at the same institution. Her research interests include the history of the Italian language and teaching and learning in language education. With a UWA research team, Federica is conducting a project on the optimisation of adaptive learning tools in higher education.


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