Academic Staff Retention As A Human Resource Factor: University Perspective

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Jacob M. Selesho
Idah Naile


Retention, Job Satisfaction, Growth, Salary Progression


The shortage of academic staff and the failure of universities to retain quality academic staff continue to be crucial to the changing prospects and potentials of knowledge formation and learning. This paper intends to examine factors that influence the poor retention rate of academic staff at selected universities in South Africa. The survey involved 80 academic staff lecturing at the selected institutions. The sample was chosen in such a way that more than 35 percent of the selected academic staff have worked at higher education institutions for more than 10 years. Prior to conducting the study, a provisional literature review was performed on recent research regarding reasons for academic staff quitting the profession or changing universities. The study attracted responses from 80 academic staff and the survey discovers job satisfaction as the main factor keeping academic staff in their profession. However, job satisfaction was also linked with career growth and academic development. The study could not rule out the probabilities of working conditions as a factor influencing retention.

While these intrinsic factors play an important role, there were also extrinsic factors, as construed from the findings. Respondents considered an academic profession to be a meager paying job, with little opportunity for growth. However, it can be argued that salary is a concern, even though academic staff considers that the academic profession has a superior reputation in society. Nonetheless, many academics believe that the profession has a heavy workload, making it difficult to meet promotion requirements and poor mentoring and capacity development, which would benefit from academic support, unambiguous promotion guidelines and clear, homogenous salary packages.


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