Press release 3.8.2006

New information on the time use of teaching staff at universities and polytechnics

In the academic year 2004-2005, teaching and research staff at universities spent nearly 2,000 working hours on tasks related to their office or post. At polytechnics the respective number of hours just exceeded 1,700. The number of working hours showed clear variation by occupational group at universities but there was less variation in this at polytechnics. At universities teaching staff spent 40 per cent and at polytechnics 10 per cent of their working hours on research. At universities teaching staff managed 15 per cent and at polytechnics 12 per cent of their weekly job tasks by e-mail. These data derive from an extensive survey of time use among tertiary teaching and research staff which Statistics Finland conducted in the academic year 2004-2005.

The target population of the survey were the budget-funded teaching and research posts involving teaching and/or research duties at universities and polytechnics. Each office or post is included in the survey for one week during which its holder recorded on a form the working hours he or she had spent on different activities. The previous respective survey concerning time use was conducted in the academic year 1991-1992. The survey was now conducted for the first time among polytechnics.

Structure of time use at universities has remained quite stable

In the academic year 2004-2005, the annual working hours of university teaching staff totalled nearly 2,000. Professors spent the largest number of hours per year, or approximately 2,250, on tasks relating to their office or post. Likewise, senior assistants and university lecturers worked over 2,000 hours per annum. The annual working hours of lecturers and researchers totalled slightly over 1,900.

In the academic year 2004-2005, teaching staff at universities spent an average of 43 hours per week on tasks relating to their office or post. The number of weekly working hours has contracted by one hour since 1992.

University teachers spend 43 per cent of their working hours on teaching, 39 per cent on research and 18 per cent on other tasks, such as administration. This has not changed much from the previous time use survey. Professors use 44 per cent of their time for teaching, 32 per cent for research and 24 per cent for other tasks. The proportions of working hours spent on teaching are the largest in humanities at 57 per cent and social sciences at 47 per cent. Other tasks also take up the largest shares of working hours in these two disciplines.

According to this time use survey, the proportions of time spent at universities on teaching, research and other tasks have not changed much over the decades. The share of teaching has diminished by only two per cent since 1983. The 1991-1992 survey indicated a slight increase in time spent on research but in the 2004-2005 survey this had contracted back again. The proportion of time used for other tasks has also remained fairly stable; in the latest survey it had grown by two percentage points from the previous survey.

Structure of time use at universities in different years, per cent

Share of research in time use varies clearly by discipline

Research accounted for the largest share, or almost one-half of working hours, in medical and health care sciences (49%), agriculture and forestry (48%), natural sciences (47%) and technology (46%). Least amounts of research were done in humanities and social sciences.

With the exception of humanities and social sciences, the proportion of research went up in all disciplines. The biggest change from the previous time use survey was recorded in agriculture and forestry where the share of research went up by 14 percentage points. The share of research in time use goes up considerably during the summer months. This had not changed from the previous time use survey.

Only minor differences in the length of working week by occupational group at polytechnics

In the academic year 2004-2005, polytechnic teachers used slightly over 1,700 working hours per annum on tasks relating to their office or post. Principal tutors worked a total of 1,830 hours per annum. The annual working hours of lecturers and full-time fee-paid teachers totalled 1,707 hours.

At polytechnics, the length of the working week was 43 hours and differences between occupational groups were quite small in this. Principal tutors work the longest week, 44 hours. On the average, principal tutors work four hours during weekends and work two hours per week on tasks entitling them to additional compensation. The working week of lecturers is only an hour shorter than that of principal tutors, and lecturers work three hours at weekends. The working week of full-time fee-paid teachers is very similar to those of principal tutors and lecturers.

At polytechnics, teachers spend 74 per cent of their time on teaching, 10 per cent on research and 16 per cent on other tasks. Research accounts for the largest share, or 47 per cent, of the working hours of researchers. Principal tutors use 16 per cent, lecturers eight per cent and full-time fee-paid teachers seven per cent of their working hours for research. The largest shares, or more than 10 per cent of working time, are used for research in the cultural field, and in the fields of social and health care, and physical exercise.

Source: Survey of Time Use among University and Polytechnic Staff. Statistics Finland. Science, Technology and Information Society 2006.

Inquiries: Mr Vesa Hämäläinen +358 9 1734 2594, Mr Markku Virtaharju +358 9 1734 3290, tiede.teknologia@stat.fi

Director in charge: Ms Kaija Hovi

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