Sujatha Balakrishna, Senior Lecturer, Nilai University, Malaysia

Ms. Sujatha Balakrishna is a Senior Lecturer, certified trainer, online module leader, project paper supervisor, researcher and current PhD student in Management. Sujatha holds an MBA from Universiti Malaya (2007) and a BA (Hons) degree from Nilai College and Oxford Brookes University (2001). Sujatha has completed a one-year course in Certificate of Teaching in Higher Education from Oxford Brookes University. She has more than 16 years of teaching experience in higher education with the capability to handle big number of students. She has taught both face to face and online classes. Sujatha has a great quality to connect and build rapport with diverse group of students including adult learners from over 15 countries. Sujatha has vast experience in teaching in the areas like organizational behaviour, interpersonal skills, professional development, management, business ethics and entrepreneurship.


It is known that, nowadays, being an academician is not an easy job. There is a continuous conflict between the roles of an academician. As the name suggests, an academician is expected to do all the tasks and activities that are related to academia, which includes teaching, tutoring, marking, publishing, mentoring and supervising. Every individual has dreams since their childhood about their ambitions. Not many of us would have had an ambition to be an academician or scholar. The word is “teacher”. Many people have had ambitions of becoming a teacher. According to Teachmint (2023), a teacher is a teaching professional who is meant to help students to gain knowledge, competence, and virtue. Similarly, according to Cambridge Dictionary, a lecturer is someone who teaches at a college or university. This particular role has been enriched to various other roles. A lecturer is expected to lecture only? The answer today will be no. As a lecturer, you are expected to lecture, set exam papers, mark, prepare reports, do research, write papers, publish papers (SCOPUS indexed), mentor students, supervise student’s project paper, advise student clubs and society, organize events and conferences. Pheww… Am I done yet? No. Lecturers are also expected to think about how to market the programs and recruit more students. With the presence of so many responsibilities as a lecturer, do we have the time to think about how to create an interesting lesson plan for our classes? How many lecturers do that? It can be observed that many lecturers do not have the time to juggle with too many tasks and will always opt for class preparation to be compromised over their scholarly activities. Given the attractive rewards for scholarly excellence from grants, recognition and ranking, it is undeniable that the lecturers will work hard to produce scholarly papers. The same recognition and importance have to be given to the teaching role as well, in order to have a fulfilling career as a lecturer. The students’ development has to be given priority, knowing the business/industry is about educating others and not only ourselves. Student development has to be given priority over self-development.

The main factor for lecturers to turn to become scholars is the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that is set to excel in scholarly activities. This seems to be more rewarding to the lecturers and beneficial for the universities. The universities seem to race with each other for publication numbers and ratings. The race is real and has created a difficult situation for the lecturers. They have to either publish or perish. What is publish or perish? Based on Free Dictionary, it says either to produce consistent published works, especially scholarly articles, or else risk falling into obscurity or disfavour or being released from one’s academic institution. The lecturers are being pushed into the requirements of publishing papers consistently or else it will have serious consequences on their career. It is worth saying that there are no such situations created for lecturers where, if they do not perform well in teaching or be excellent in the classroom, their career will be in jeopardy. The race can be justified by getting the university rankings and ratings to be on the world list.

The whole academic world is functioning in this way, where the lecturers are becoming scholars and teaching is becoming one of the roles and not the main role anymore. With the advancement of technologies, the role of teaching is also in question as AI and ChatGPT will substitute for a teacher. With ODL (Open Distance Learning) programs, a teacher is less needed where the students are expected to learn on their own at their own pace. The necessity of a teacher has become less important with technology and the newer generation prefer to be on their own. Based on some research, the newer generation does not have the interest in continuing their studies in higher education. This is due to the emergence of the Gig economy and temporary jobs as social media influencers and Youtubers. Therefore, the lecturer’s role has to be enriched by doing other roles as scholars and marketers to make sure their survival is guaranteed. Gone are the days where lecturers were appreciated for their excellence in teaching, which resulted in the reduction of enthusiasm for classroom excellence and student development. More interest and passion are shown in scholarly excellence. Therefore, universities may have to hire more scholars than lecturers in future. Job descriptions have to match that of an academician. It would be great if there were options for academicians to choose their career path, either as a scholar or lecturer, which can help them to be more focused and have a fulfilling career.

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