"We aren't hungry for bread," admits Dr. Nitza Berkovitch, from the Behavioral Sciences Department of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Nor does her family claim it can't get through the month. "But we're being de-legitimized," she says. "Does anybody realize that I've spent the last four days checking a student's doctoral paper without clocking in? And there are also meetings with students, and reading endless drafts."
Berkovitch envies people who only work eight hours a day, lock up the office and amble on home, without pangs of conscience. These are people who get to enjoy their weekends. "That isn't how it works with us, because students are waiting to see their corrected papers," she said. "Has anybody measured the time I spent as a member of the teaching committee at the Behavioral Sciences Department, and as the Masters' program coordinator in organizational sociology at the university?"
To be accurate, the strike is largely confined to lecturers shunning the classroom. But when it comes to research, they're forging ahead full steam.
"When the treasury people accuse us of only teaching six to eight hours a week, they're deliberately ignoring the fact that 70 percent to 80 percent of our time is spent on research activity, and only 20 percent to 30 percent on teaching itself," says Prof. Simon Benninga, financial modeling expert, lecturer at Tel Aviv University, and former dean of the Management faculty. He believes that what the research the academics do is more important than frontal teaching, noting that a university academic is measured by international esteem for his work, not his teaching.
"A student who finishes his doctorate and is hired as a young lecturer at university nets NIS 8,000 a month," Benninga says. "A person who's passed all the stages of promotion and accrued 25 years' seniority nets NIS 12,000 to NIS 13,000 a month."
He notes that an acquaintance of his who obtained his PhD and moved to the States started at a salary of $80,000 a year. "One of my doctoral students who invited me to lecture in the U.S. earns $110,000 per semester," Benninga says. She wouldn't earn that here.
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