Seventeen years ago, Duke (1992: 96) observed that academic staff at universities regarded themselves "less as employees than as a kind of college or fraternity of individual scholars and professionals freely associating for the advancement of knowledge and the expression of academic autonomy". He proceeds to indicate that identity and first loyalty of faculty is with their discipline and the international community thereof. Given this collegiate context, staff development had been perceived as almost intrusive; close to offensive and even insulting. However, study leave or sabbatical is still held in high regard as an acceptable form of academic staff development.
However, circumstances changed. State funded higher education institutions can no longer do as they please—now there is accountability to government and the taxpayer. State funding is conditional to the performance of institutions in terms of, for example, throughput. Research funding is coupled to research output, in order to encourage more research. Academic staff is becoming more amenable to acquiring new abilities and enlarging their repertoire of skills.
Duke, C. 1992. The learning university—towards a new paradigm? Buckingham: SRHE & Open University Press