Academia’s underclass

February 20, 2014

The article on the plight of graduate teaching assistants (“Ignored and forgotten”, Opinion, 13 February) was painfully true. I was a GTA for three years. I basically had a year when I did almost no work on my PhD because I was teaching full-time for a paltry sum I couldn’t live on. I almost killed myself trying to do both fieldwork and teaching in the second and third years, and then had to fund myself through a fourth year to write the damn thing.

I often wondered what the students would think if they knew that their essays and exams were being given at most 15 minutes’ consideration so I could come in at something like minimum wage. The marking load was crippling (150 essays in 14 days, no days off).

I was very good at it, and I loved it. I wouldn’t have minded if I had been considered a member of staff, or valued, or given a route into employment afterwards, but I wasn’t.

I’m out of it now, but I wish something could be done. Value your GTAs, they are amazing.

M. Bodley
Via timeshighereducation.co.uk

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