See the data: Does your university pay fair?

The most recent data (2014/2015) provided by HESA, the experts in higher education data and analysis. The University and College Union (UCU) have then analysed the data and calculated net monetary differences in pay by gender at the UK’s highest institutions. The data shows ‘atypical employment’ rates at UK universities, which incorporates part time and zero working hour contracts, with academic staff paid by assignment, on lower payment rates and with fewer employment rights.

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The UCU report published in November on the precarious work in higher education also points out that “the richest and most prestigious universities are also the worst offenders”, with insecurity rates in the Russell Group averaging at 58.5%.

What are insecure contracts and how many are there?

Who are the precarious workers?

The UCU says there are three main categories of precarious workers: the first are PhD students who teach during their studies as an attempt to begin a career in the academia. The second category is comprised of professionals who work in different fields and take up teaching part-time, often known as ‘visiting lecturers’; the UCU defines the third category as ‘those who are substantively employed on a limited term or precarious contracts and dependent on these for their living. This encompasses contract research staff – including those on so-called open-ended contracts whose employment is dependent on short-term funding – and teaching staff on fixed-term or hourly-paid contracts.’

In response to the data published by the UCU,  Director General of the Russell Group, Dr Wendy Piatt, said that staff welfare is ‘a priority for our universities and is always taken into account when contracts and terms of employment are offered. However, universities require levels of flexibility that reflect changes in student enrolment, popularity of courses and the expansion of research projects.’

“To assume all staff involved in teaching through atypical or fixed term contracts are on so-called ‘zero-hours’ contracts is misleading. Visiting lecturers, expert consultants or industry professionals who add greatly to the research-led teaching at our universities would be on such contracts. These additional voices in our universities provide insight that the students value highly, but would not wish to take on full-time typical contracts within a higher education institution.”

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