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Student News

Lecturers admit poor work contracts are dangerously affecting their teaching

A report reveals that some of the UK’s richest universities are exploiting teaching staff, with as much as 70% on unstable, short-term work contracts.
lecturers underpaid
You’d be forgiven for thinking that after spending so many years in academia working your butt off to become a uni lecturer, you’d be setting yourself up for a stable career and a decent salary packet.

But unfortunately a report by the Guardian suggests you’d be mistaken. They've revealed some of the UK’s most highly-skilled workers are overworked, underpaid and unable to get permanent contracts, despite landing jobs at the country’s most prestigious universities.

Not only this, but lecturers have admitted low pay is making them care less about offering students value for their £9,000/year fees.

The analysis reveals that the richest Russell Group universities - such as the University of Birmingham, Warwick, Oxford and Edinburgh - are relying more heavily on zero-hour contracts and temporary teaching staff than any other unis in the UK.

guardian reportCredit: The Guardian

Tuition fees are set to rise again in England from next year onwards. Find out why they're going up, and what you can do to stop it.

How this affects teaching

russel group uni temp contracts
Credit: The Guardian
The report found that more than half of uni staff directly involved in teaching at Russel Group universities were on precarious contracts such as short-term, flexible or zero-hour contracts (see the full list here).

As a result of these shady contracts, staff anonymously admitted in a survey  that feeling overworked and undervalued was making them care less about offering students good value for their £9,000 yearly tuition fees.

One member of staff claimed "the lack of value that I feel towards me is passed on in my feelings towards the students’ education," whilst another admitted they’re “definitely much less inclined to go the extra mile in terms of preparing for a class.”

Paying staff by the hour seems particularly damaging, as another commenter claimed they'd heard of staff saying that since they were only being paid 10 minutes per paper for marking exams "therefore they will use only 10 minutes to read them.”

Are students not getting the education they're paying (through the nose) for because unis aren't properly investing in their teaching staff?

Where’s my £9,000 going?

not cool broWhilst it’s shocking to hear that so many of the wealthiest universities are cutting corners by underpaying lecturing staff, it seems that no expense is spared when it comes to Vice Chancellors.

At the same time more than half of university teaching staff are struggling to get by, a very small percentage of senior lecturing staff are taking home a ridiculously fat pay packet.

The average salary for a university VC in the UK has now hit £277,000 per year, which has prompted unions to call for government intervention.

Sir David Eastwood, the vice-chancellor of Birmingham Uni, was paid £416,000 last year alone, which is almost three times the Prime Minister’s salary!

Birmingham Uni – who also employ the highest percentage of frontline teaching staff on insecure contracts (70.3%) – has also just started making way with a massive new £500 million development project, which includes a super gym and brand new student accommodation on campus.

Could universities be prioritising building development over quality teaching?

Make sure you know your fact from your fiction with these 15 tuition fee myths debunked!

Katie Paterson

WRITTEN BY Katie Paterson

Katie Paterson is an accomplished writer from Glasgow. She studied English Literature at the University of Strathclyde, then went on to do a Research Masters in Literature at the University of Amsterdam. As Lead Editor for Save the Student, Katie has covered topics from career tips to ways to make money go further as a student.
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