Statement Regarding the Working Limits on Postgraduate Tutors

The Working Conditions of Tutors are the Learning Conditions for Students

Undergraduate students at the University of Edinburgh may be unaware that a significant percentage of their tutors are employed on Guaranteed Hours contracts (GH contracts).

There are many issues with the approach adopted by many prestigious universities to the employment of post-graduate and other tutors on GH contracts.

The working conditions of staff are the learning conditions for students and we think that it is unacceptable for universities who market themselves to students on their reputation for high quality provision to employ large numbers of their staff on contracts that prevent them doing their jobs as effectively as possible.

The trade union representing academic and related staff, the University and College Union (UCU), are taking these issues up with the University of Edinburgh management.

However, we ask undergraduate students to be aware that we believe the current arrangements mean that there are too many insecure contracts which disrupt educational relationships, stifle the development of teaching staff and often put them under unbearable pressure to cut corners by employing them on poor hourly rates that fail to cover the work they really do.

If your tutor says that she or he has insufficient time to meet your needs, there is a good reason for it. We are clear that current arrangements mean that tutors are not always paid fully for:

  • All hours spent preparing for teaching (reading assigned texts, setting questions, identifying secondary readings, marking handouts, presentations, etc.)
  • All hours spent marking essays
  • Evaluating participation in tutorials
  • Administration
  • Professional development

Your tutors do their best to read your work thoroughly, provide you with detailed feedback and offer assistance outside of tutorials but please be aware that the current GH contract arrangements mean that this is not always possible.

We ask you to understand why your tutor may not be able to meet your wishes.

In 2018, the UCU will be reviewing the situation regarding GH contracts. We want a situation where tutors are paid properly for what they do and are treated fairly. Updates on developments will be posted but in the meantime, we hope for your support.

University and College Union

December 2017

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Guaranteed Hours Contracts

This page used to host a template letter, written by GH tutors, but has been temporarily unpublished due to University management requests. If you are a GH tutor at the University of Edinburgh, and would like to know how other tutors explain their working conditions to students, please get in touch with the organisers of the UCU PG & PD Network and/or attend their next meeting at 15.00 – 16.00, Wednesday 24 October at the Union Offices.

TEF: Joint statement from Edinburgh University Students’ Association and UCU Edinburgh

Edinburgh University Students’ Association and the University and College Union Edinburgh (UCUE) branch welcome the University of Edinburgh’s decision to not enter the second year of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). The Teaching Excellence Framework is a criterion that has been imposed on universities by the UK Government, ostensibly designed to measure teaching quality, but ultimately deepening the commodification of Higher Education.

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The Teaching Excellence Framework uses flawed metrics to measure teaching quality – teaching quality should not be measured arbitrarily by student satisfaction.  The implications of entering the UK Government’s framework for measuring teaching quality may be profound, and will dramatically change the Higher Education sector in the long-run, as the various ways in which students and staff engage in learning and teaching are reduced to measurements that do not capture either students’ or staffs’ experiences in the classroom.

The Students’ Association and UCUE recognise their mutually reinforcing interests, and will continue to work alongside each other in the future.  If the University reconsiders engaging with the Teaching Excellence Framework, the Students’ Association and  UCUE will ensure that appropriate preventative action is taken.