Posted on Mon 11 Feb 2019 at 12:44 by Christopher Carter
For many postgraduate research students, undertaking teaching is a key part of their academic and professional development, and helps to provide an excellent educational experience to undergraduate students.
Postgraduates who teach are paid by the Sessional Teaching Payroll (STP), which was first introduced at Warwick in August 2017. Since its introduction, there have been several problems with its implementation, especially around postgrad teachers not being paid for all of the hours they work. STP operates as a framework of required time for various tasks associated with teaching – such as seminar preparation, marking work, and providing feedback. However, in reality, postgrad teachers work more hours than has been specified to complete these tasks, without being honoured for this in their monthly payslip.
Fortunately, a group has recently been formed to review the current framework. Chaired by Provost Christine Ennew, the group is committed to moving postgrads who teach from their STP contracts onto new employment contracts. This means that they’ll finally receive the same treatment and benefits as permanent staff, as well as being treated as proper and valued employees of the University.
The review group has already consulted with UCU and Warwick Anti-Casualisation, and now – with the SU’s Postgraduate Officer being a permanent member of the group - I will hopefully be able to ensure the postgraduate student voice is adequately heard during the designing of these new contracts. There is a lot of work to be done, but it appears we are finally moving in the right direction.
From the SU’s perspective, this is excellent news, but there are wider issues still to consider. Pay is a big part of teaching conditions at Warwick, but there is also the need to provide good quality teaching for our undergraduate students so that they receive the student learning conditions they deserve. We need to understand what makes teaching attractive to postgraduates so that we can continue to provide this in future years. This involves considerations such as class sizes, the ability to provide good quality feedback, the amount of hours worked, and ensuring that subjects are taught by people with expertise in the field.
Therefore, the SU is undertaking some research into teaching conditions at Warwick to capture the realities of being a postgraduate who teaches. We’ve produced a survey, and will be hosting several focus groups over the Easter vacation period to discuss this. The results will inform the designing and consultation of the new contracts, as well as longer-term developments within the University.
If you teach, or know anyone who does, please get involved, fill out the survey, and come to our focus groups. The more information we have on this, the stronger position we will be in to ensure our views are properly heard over the coming months!
Find the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GW6BQFX