Recently, authorities in China issued a document that gives scientific researchers and university teachers the green light to moonlight and make extra money outside their regular work. The new policy also permits lecturers to teach in different colleges.
Moonlighting, in actual fact, is not new among academics, whose elite often engage in business or other activities for financial gain outside regular posts. In this way, they can increase their earnings far above the salaries paid by their research institutes and colleges. For years, however, academics had to undertake work on the side covertly, as no official regulation existed on whether or not they could do so. Some universities and research institutes chose to turn a blind eye, while others maintained a policy of non-tolerance. With the new rule, however, academics no longer need to conceal such extra-curricular activities.
Doubts, however, accompany the release of the new document. While some believe the academic elite deserve the right to take on extra work and leverage their knowledge and academic capabilities to generate income, others express concern that the green light might orient the prevailing winds in a direction unfavorable to educational organizations and students.
Give it a try
Fu Biao (ctjb.cnhubei.com): Whether to allow scientific researchers and college teachers to moonlight has long been controversial. Besides their teaching schedule, university lecturers can conduct academic research and engage in innovation. But a lot of colleges and research institutes have limited channels to transform their research results into commercial success. If members of their staff are allowed to moonlight, the possibility of finding ways for transformation will increase.
Given the development of the Internet as well as the public's desire for superior education resources and knowledge, scientific researchers and college teachers are becoming increasingly accessible to those who want to seek their advice and cooperation. So researchers and college teachers will have to elevate their academic and teaching capabilities to meet the public's requirements. Knowledge will bring academics more economic benefits, and in turn, they will value their knowledge more.
In China, the salaries of research staff and college teachers are not very attractive, and their influence on society is also quite limited, much less than that of big-name entertainers or even Internet celebrities. Now that they are permitted to take on part-time work, more people will get to know their value and significance. In particular, through encouraging them to get involved in public services, such as popularizing scientific knowledge, legal aid, poverty reduction and policy consulting, knowledge will win more respect throughout the nation.
While those who moonlight to the detriment of their scientific research and teaching responsibilities have to be punished, research institutes and colleges should work out effective measures that enable their staff to achieve an appropriate balance between research and teaching and additional work.
Zhi Fan (Beijing Youth Daily): The conventional belief in China is that if someone works to generate a second income, he or she is violating professional ethics. As a result, in order to make extra money, most people who moonlight do so stealthily, at the risk of being fired.
Actually, moonlighting does not necessarily conflict with one's job. To some extent, the ban on moonlighting has been blamed for restricting knowledge sharing and innovation, which is detrimental to economic development. The new regulation means to legalize a practice that has been done secretly, so that researchers and college teachers can fully tap into their academic capabilities. They can earn more money because of their talent and efforts, and they deserve not to be criticized by others.
Not only academic elites, but people engaged in other sectors should also be given the opportunity to flow freely. More freely combining academic and social resources will help to bolster creativity in society.
We believe that employees and their bosses know how to balance regular work and moonlighting, and they know whether they are in a post that can allow moonlighting. Bosses who decide to forbid moonlighting should provide good salaries, and if they can't, employees will naturally consider other choices. Equally, if someone is not so capable in his area, he has no chance to make extra money; so if he wants to, he has to try and improve his skills.
Whether employed people should be permitted to moonlight should be left to
organizations, companies and working staff. The government should refrain from interference. Let market forces decide whether moonlighting should be allowed, and we'll see a more open and vibrant society.
Li Shenmiao (Shenzhen Evening News): Generally speaking, scientific researchers and college teachers are not very well paid, and thus some of them moonlight or start their own businesses. Most scientific institutes and colleges choose to turn a blind eye to the practice, with few forbidding it. Actually, as long as regular work is not negatively impacted, most organizations do not want to prevent people from making extra money. Now, it's time to bring this issue out into the light and to regulate it. To allow scientific researchers and college teachers to take part-time jobs is reasonable and also accords with market rules.
Jiang Wen (www.people.com.cn): To fully tap into the academic capabilities of scientific researchers and college teachers is very important to China's social and economic development. Allowing them to moonlight after completing their regular work will not only bring them some money, but also make it possible for their knowledge to be utilized by society in a broader context.
However, the key to officially permitted moonlighting is the balance between regular daily work and part-time jobs. If it is not well balanced, this policy is likely to be a failure.
Scientific researchers and college teachers are an important force that pushes forward social development, so every one of them who is intending to moonlight must carefully assess the business. They are not supposed to rush into part-time jobs solely for money, and thereby steal time and energy from daily research and teaching. If their regular work is corroded by part-time businesses, they might bring criticism to the whole moonlighting group instead of just themselves.
In the process of implementing the new policy and while encouraging moderate moonlighting, organizations should at the same time keep an eye on how people get on with their regular and part-time jobs. In case anyone breaches related regulations, punishment is necessary. Since moonlighting is now legal, there must be effective measures to ensure its operation.
Han Xiaoqiao (www.anhuinews.com): To allow moonlighting will help scientific researchers and college teachers enhance their actual income and social status. The fact that know-ledge and wisdom can be transformed into wealth will help to create an atmosphere where knowledge and talent are valued. Meanwhile, companies and many social organizations will have their demand for talent gradually met.
However, concerns have also emerged that once it's officially permitted, moonlighting might squeeze college teachers' daily work schedule. Actually, in recent years, many college teachers have been moonlighting, particularly those in the fields of business administration, engineering, technology and art. Some of them not only frequently attend business events, but also start their own businesses, leaving their regular work aside. Such activities have triggered widespread criticism. People are worried that the lifting of the ban on moonlighting will fuel some lecturers' irresponsible behavior. How to tackle this problem will decide the success of the new policy.
Meanwhile, there is also concern about the uneven distribution of moonlighting opportunities. For scientific researchers and college teachers, their salary gaps result not only from their personal working abilities, but also from their professional titles, which are divided into several levels depending on the length of time they have spent in a certain profession, etc. Prestigious professors and experts enjoy more opportunities for winning profitable contracts and moonlighting. People are also worried that some colleges might set up thresholds for young teachers and allow only senior professors to moonlight, which will lead to a further widening of the salary gap within the group. In this event, young researchers and teachers are likely to be discouraged from innovation and skills improvement.
Copyedited by Chris Surtees
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