Petition on making futher changes to new Tutor Contract at University of Sussex

This petition made change with 525 supporters!

We, the undersigned, wish to voice our concerns about the terms of the new Tutor Contract at the University of Sussex, due to come into force in January 2017. While we greatly appreciate the move away from zero-hours contracts and the security offered with holiday pay and sick pay, we have concerns about the specifics of the terms. 

Teaching is a crucial skill for employability. PGR students who have had the opportunity to teach have been equipped with skills and gone on to secure good employment posts on the basis of their research AND teaching experience. We understand that data shows there is no substantial link to demonstrate that PGR students who are doing more teaching are also submitting their thesis late. Imposing teaching restrictions onto PGR students and current postgraduate ATs is thus patronizing, because it assumes they cannot make appropriate decisions about their career development and studies.

The current changes have created an unequal two-tier system, with some PGRs receiving more benefits than others. We believe that it is not reasonable to extend a cap on hours for funded PGR students to those students who are not funded, who are most in need of reliable work to support their studies. Additional harm will be done also to part-time PGR students and current postgraduate ATs who teach our students. Most part-time students are only part time for financial reasons, and placing restrictions on the number of hours they are allowed to work seriously jeopardises their future here as PhD students. The same applies to our postgraduate ATs whose contribution to our teaching is undeniable and whose future careers are about to take off yet need a steady transition which their home institution should support.   

Essentially, those restrictions will push PGR students - funded or not funded, full-time or part-time, home or international - and our postgraduate ATs outside the university to take up other work that is likely to have less relevance to their studies and be less helpful to their future employability.

Last but not least, the proposed changes could have a detrimental impact on the experience of undergraduate students, if the class sizes were to increase; and on faculty research outputs and funding, if their teaching load was to increase as a consequence of limited PGR teaching responsibilities, which have been valued by students and staff alike.

We propose:

 1. Remove caps on hours and instead provide guidance and safeguards for Heads of Schools and supervisors to make individual decisions on quantity of PGR teaching, with respect to thesis completion.

 2. In the interests of equality, remove the pro rata basis of work for part-time PGR students, who tend to be the ones who are in most need of funds to support their degree, and are disproportionately women.

 3. Lift the restriction of no teaching after the viva. A more suitable cut-off date would be when the final thesis is submitted after revisions or corrections.

Please sign with your name, title, affiliation and employment/student status (such as full-time/part-time staff member, AT, full-time/part-time PhD student, undergraduate). You can remain anonymous if you choose. You can add it to the comments box.

Thank you.

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