The high entry barriers for college mentors

A MENTOR trying to get employed in a higher education institution finds an odyssey as he encounters kilometric barriers. University policies make their entry as difficult as finding Yamashita treasure, only to find a few pennies. A little stretch, but this reflects the true scenarios these days.

It could have been understandable for first-timers or those who do not have teaching experience because once a university hires them, they should wait for a number of years to earn a tenure and apply for promotion, if they earn enough points for a higher rank. But what if a newly hired mentor already had a rank of Associate Professor or higher in his previous university? As a common practice among universities, such experienced mentor is provisionally ranked as Instructor 1 in the new institution that employs him. This is regardless of his sterling outputs. It blatantly ignores his previous university’sconfirmation that he is an effective mentor.

For one, this is like forcing a master’s degree holder to go back to basic education just to be treated no less than a man. It could go as wild and absurd as this—to the detriment of “mere mentors” as society might condescendingly label them, and to the detriment of society that needs good mentors– and I wonder why government regulations are absent on this matter. Such experienced newcomer mentor with a provisional rank of Instructor 1 needs to wait for at least two years in order to become eligible in applying for his true rank, per policy of higher education institutions.Compared to advanced countries, the number of years of being a probationary status is not the consideration to get a tenure because research and peer-reviewed journal publications are the tickets for these mentors to get a tenure.

What is practicedin our country shows that teaching in higher education becomes the most grilled profession. It is like giving a Navy Seals initiation rite while the remuneration for teachers does not even equal to that of a policeman. Are schools flouting for an Antilla (the most expensive home worth a billion US dollars) to justify the ordeal of experienced newly hired mentors?

Nevertheless, the new mentor with considerable awards, researches and publications should not have gone through a grueling probationary status for two years before getting a tenure and get his true rank. The Association Professor rank that he had held in his previous academia must already give a good proof that he is a recognized mentor with a skill set, unless his erstwhile institution is a bogus or not accredited by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). I imagine the likes of Damien Hirst, a world-renowned British visual artist, being forced to become an Instructor 1 in a fine arts college, stripped of any glamor, just to get a tenurewith a true rank. A little stretch, but this illustrates what is happening nowadays.

Compare newly hired higher education professors with start-up business managers. The novice leaders of institutions just get six months before getting a permanent status– a procedure also applied to rank-and-file employees in the corporate world. These corporate leaders are treated based on their true accomplishments even if still on probation. The experienced, newly hired teacher, on the other hand, feels that he has been treated like a grade schooler for two years to prove that he really has the competence and possesses the right behavior as a mentor. Is his previous stint a mere fiction that he should be denied of his true rank? As higher education institutions continue with this questionable tradition, society becomes their accomplice as universities punish the competent and the meritorious if they just seek for better schools.

Added to the kilometric walls for new mentors in universities and colleges, many observe that those who toil like hunting for Yamashita treasure and later get a few pennies—the college mentors—often suffer more hell upon realizing that the college or university that he works with is ripe with gutter politics that can easily make princes out of intellectual paupers, or those who are not research productive but suddenly get higher ranks. The government does not even have an independent special ombudsman to look into the grievances of mentors in universities and colleges. Generally, those who have grievances just remain silent for fear of reprisal from their leaders.

This is burdensome to productive mentors; they then see teaching as a leprosy to be shunned, not a patient to be treated. Who likes to do research to serve the interests of institutions, only to be left out in promotions, albeit he carries the trump cards of such academia? Who likes to be treated as a know-nothing, just to exude the right aroma before the powers-that-be in the academia?

Such questions are worth pondering because not many mentors can get the right morale for a profession that does not anymore become rewarding. The CHED should be more concerned and give appropriate remedies rather than just claim that it is the watchdog of higher education institution which does not get involved with the management practices of universities and colleges. What does it do if its house is robbed by vicious people? Does CHED see it? The house has been robbed since a long time ago. The problem becomes a hard knot that affects the likeability and quality of higher education institutions in the country.

Lawmakers can legislate laws to address this issue.