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November 2015
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MAW - Management of Academic Workloads

Partnership Outputs: Information Sheets/Reports

Information Sheet 2 Developing Frameworks for MAW

This sheet is a synthesis by Dr Lucinda Barrett, MAW project coordinator, of the network activity. This sheet is available as a word document click here.For more details please contact or

 The meeting of the MAW partnership on the 5th of March 2008 looked at the development of models to manage workloads. The following is a summary of those initial discussions and follows on from the earlier information sheet on policy.

The focus of this discussion is on the development of a framework that supports the implementation of policy across the university, although many aspects are applicable to the development of a model locally in an academic unit, for example both require attention to both social and technical dimensions. For ease of discussion these two aspects will be considered separately, but in practice these two elements work in a dynamic relationship.

1 Social Dynamics
The process of developing a framework can be seen to operate in three broad phases of initiation, development and maintenance.


1 Discussion on the scope of the framework will cover the work types to be included and the staff involved - full time, fractional, associate lecturers, new staff and graduate teaching assistants and the implications, both short and longer term, for them within the framework
2 Transparency of process and outcomes. Transparency is commonly seen to mitigate tensions as staff get clearer evidence of workloads, however it may also create friction, so sensitivity in these dealings is essential. Agreements need to be reached on how information will be stored, and accessed in line with data protection requirements.
3 Potential linkage to other university activities / plans in a holistic approach that leads to efficiency improvements through the management information gained. This could involve, for example: staff performance development and review, activity costing, TRAC and the RAE.






2 Technical Models

1 Units of measure – hours/ representative hours (measuring inputs), or workload units (founded more on outputs).

2 Balance principle - whether the allocation works back from a maximum figure or looks to balance activities around an average, such as the median between staff involved.

3 The level of detail involved - to avoid the model becoming too detailed and complex, which may include the provision of a small allocation to all to capture numerous small, but disparate tasks.

4 Information on how over and under-loads will be managed.

5 Timescales for providing work plans and how that information is to be disseminated.

· There is diverse experience of what is included in the framework and how these are measured, see below: 

1Research is often divided into school funded and externally funded activities. Some give a flat percentage of overall workload and this amount varies considerably between institutions. This figure is then often topped up by a further amount determined by research activity, sometimes judged simply through income, at others taking account of other factors as well, such as journal papers and postgraduate supervision. Some universities state their position explicitly on research only and teaching only contracts.

2 Teaching preparation and delivery are often given a fixed unit hour allowance per contact hour. This amount may be given a heavier weighting if the course or lecturer is new. Assessment time is sometimes calculated through student numbers, at others it operates as part of a calculation that builds up an overall value for the delivery of a module. This figure will be determined by the credit weighting of the module and can then, for team teaching, be divided up to reflect the balance of activities. These assessments often work through team consultations led by Subject Group Leaders.

3 Within all these calculations on teaching contact hours, any contractual weekly and yearly limits must be allowed for in allocations.

4 In some universities administrative tasks are accounted for as part of other responsibilities, such as teaching and research. More often though they are accounted for separately with weightings decided on dependent on the size and complexity of the task. These weightings for major roles are often set centrally, but discretionary variation at local level is possible, although the degree of flexibility may be set. For example at 10% variation. For other activities local discretion may be absolute.