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Monday, December 20th 2004

9:00 PM

Supply and demand of lecturers... in Colombia

 

 

 

Last week I was revising the problem of the limited horizons of research in Colombia. I was discussing this with my boyfriend (also an economist) and he suggested there is one simple reason for this: THERE IS NO MONEY FOR MORE. Given that there is a limited amount of resources, these are generally concentrated on the urgent needs of a diagnosis of a certain situation, so there is no support for more theoretical studies. The result? Colombian economists are hardly ever considerably contributing to the economic science.

 

For some people this seems to be an obvious truth.

 

This truth hit me when I was told the salary I was going to receive for the lectures I intend to give in an university. It seems that despite my experience as a tutor for two years, one here in Colombia and another in London, and my previous teaching assistant position during summer term in my previous university, my salary will be at the lower end of the rank: between 4 to 5₤ per hour, plus the legal requirements of health and pensions. This is a bit less than what I actually make per hour by giving private tutoring. To be profitable, one ought to lecture eight hours per day five days a week at the lower rate… and that is kind of impossible, even for Colombian standards.

 

As my readers, you already know that I’m not pursuing an academic career because of money. It’s actually quite the opposite. In this case I wanted to go up on the academic ladder, from teaching assistant to lecturer, trying to stick to a good institution. Considering this is just a secondary job, it is not that I desperately need the money; I’m doing this out of pleasure. But it still is a shock.

 

I don’t want to think this is an issue of lack of acknowledgment of my capabilities and previous experience, I think this is just another way the lack of funding limits the academic career. As every price in an economy, the salary is one of the equilibrium variables between supply and demand. Considering this is an underdeveloped country where there aren’t many highly skilled professionals, in this case, therefore, the problem is not a limited supply but a restricted demand for lecturers. These low salaries generate, according to my view, a vicious circle because the opportunity cost of well-prepared lecturers is too high to make the academic career appealing to them. As a consequence, not only the quality of education continues to be low, but a suboptimal proportion of economists take the decision of pursuing postgraduate education so they can devote themselves to teaching.

 

Any solution to the problem? Your views? I’m always happy to read you.

 

 

 

 

 

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