Pay PhD students who teach
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Professor Mary Stuart, Vice –Chancellor
University of Lincoln
Dear Professor Stuart,
In a letter to students and parents celebrating the receipt of the Gold Standard Award (TEF) you remarked that this commendation, ‘is a testament to the talents and endeavours […] of our teaching staff who all enthusiastically embrace the opportunities and challenges presented to them’.
We agree, but can we honestly celebrate these achievements when this institution continues to employ a significant number of academic staff on precarious contracts, causing stress, anxiety, uncertainty, and financial hardship? Casual contracts result in organisational inefficiency, and have a real impact on the quality of teaching provision, when measured correctly.
Specifically, we have a systemic problem at the University with payment for Hourly Paid Lecturers. Constant mistakes, miscommunication and delays across departments have meant contracts have not been issued – or issued incorrectly – and payments unauthorised, often for months at a time. In many cases, the first remuneration of the semester would not be received until after the entire module was complete. With no single individual or department responsible or accountable for ensuring this process runs smoothly, often the default position of the institution is inertia.
Given that many HPLs are also PhD Students, it is alarming to find that this problem is not only having a quantifiable effect on their studies, but the unnecessarily demanding amount of time spent attempting to rectify these administrative problems is proving to be a significant, frustrating and worrying distraction from their own research. This has been occurring for a number of years now, and is totally unacceptable.
As a student and/or member of staff at this institution I believe high-quality education should entail fair working conditions, which depend on contracts that give staff the stability and continuity of employment. I ask that you truly recognise the achievements of staff at this institution by making a committed effort to, firstly, ensuring that HPLs are paid correctly and on-time as a matter of urgency and, secondly, meaningfully work towards decreasing insecure contracts and the problems with working conditions for postgraduate research students, only some of which have been detailed above.
We welcome discussing these issues with you in more detail and working together to address them.
Staff and students at the University of Lincoln
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