Some people have asked me about my last post on the hard life of the researcher. It seems that some people have interpreted that I would like lecturers to be fired so researchers have a bigger travel budget. That is definitely not what I wanted to convey. I apologise if my words can be understood that way.
My point is as follows. It would be logical that a decrease in the demand of teaching creates a decrease in the offer of teaching. Like a decrease in the need of milk makes milk producers offer less milk. In order to apply this logic, universities would have to decrease the teaching hours offered when the student numbers go down, either by (a) firing lecturers or (b) paying fewer teaching hours, which means lowering lecturers’ wages. This is not possible, because it would be unfair to lecturers and just impractical. Therefore, universities look at what they can cut and voila, research funds is one of the very few things that can be adjusted in order to cope with the situation. This is not fair to resarchers, but firing lecturers to compensate researchers would be as unfair.
I hope my point is better expressed this time.
Perhaps a solution could be implemented by carefully splitting teaching load between permanent staff and casual lecturers. This way, teaching offer can be easily decreased when student numbers go down by hiring fewer casuals. Does it make sense?