Pay students for working during the July Open Days

Pay students for working during the July Open Days

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Jay Staker started this petition to oxford university

Each year, several University departments/faculties, along with a number of colleges, fail to compensate student "helpers" for their work during the July Open Days. These departments include: History, Politics & International Relations, English Literature and Language, Medicine, History of Art, BioChem, and Classics. 

We know the huge impact open days can have in terms of access. The ability to talk to Oxford students about their experiences and help demystify Oxford is invaluable. For this reason, many students give up their time and own money each year to volunteer during open days. But the fact that certain departments in a university as wealthy as this one ask students to 'volunteer' for what would in any other context be classified as work is nothing less than exploiting the good will of students. Indeed, we know that students at other universities, many of which are much less wealthy than Oxford, are compensated for working in similar capacities; while a History student at Oxford will receive no pay for working during open days, History Inductors at Oxford Brookes get paid £10/hr.

Furthermore, the compensation students from different department/faculties receive is entirely inconsistent. Some students, such as art historians, received no compensation at all, while chemists receive over £14/hr. Law students are paid while English students are not, despite holding open days in the same building. The type of degree you do should not determine whether or not you get due pay. Many student workers, including those reading Music, Oriental Studies, or Medicine, are paid in kind, through vouchers in particular; but such remuneration works out to be well below the minimum wage when calculated per hour. A voucher is simply not a valid form of payment.

It is true that departments/faculties generally make it clear that helping during open days operates on a purely voluntary basis. But informing students that you will not pay them for their work does not justify not paying them. As more colleges have come to see this as unacceptable, and have begun paying their students, the same pressure for reform must be applied to the University's departments and faculties.

Many of the departments/faculties that don't pay student workers are also some of the worst for access, including Classics, Politics & IR, and History of Art. Paying Oxford students for their work will allow less well-off Oxford students to be able to work at open days and share their experiences with prospective applicants. 

I do not believe that we can in good conscience continue to encourage students from disadvantaged backgrounds to apply to a university which won't pay those same students for the good work they do. 

As such, I am asking you sign and share this petition, and refrain from volunteering in departments/faculties that don't pay students for their work. This will be difficult for many of us, who see improving access as the most important goal. But if we do not force these departments/faculties to properly compensate students for their work, then they will continue to exploit students year after year.

We demand that all University departments/faculties pay students for their work during open days, in line with the standard applied across other departments/faculties and colleges, which stands at around £10/hr.

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