Teaching, research and service are the three conventional elements of academic practice, recognised on an international basis. However, evidence suggests that academic practice is rapidly disaggregating, or 'unbundling', as a result of a variety of forces including the massification of national systems, the application of technology in teaching and increasing specialisation of academic roles to support a more centralised and performative culture. This article will present an analysis of these changes linked to the emergence of the 'para-academic': staff who specialise in one element of academic practice. This includes the 'up-skilling' of professional support staff and the 'deskilling' of academic staff. The implications of this change for the quality of the student experience and the sustainablity of academic citizenship are considered. Copyright © 2010 The Author.