Law will not help contract staff 2

March 16, 2007

Further to articles on universities moving to reduce the number of fixed-term research contracts, I am writing with hope that this approach will be followed by Luton University (now Bedfordshire University), which has to be one of the institutions with the worst practices in that respect.

Close to the end of my fixed-term contract there, I was misled into thinking that my contract would be extended if we won a new bid for funding. I and the other contract researcher (together with two, hourly paid, administrators) were asked to work on the new bid, using time and resources from the sponsor of the project that was about to end.

Needless to say, even though the university won the bid, our contracts were not extended. It had the nerve to publicise this as continuation of the old project, attributing the success to the work of our team even as we were told that there was "no suitable post" for us on the new project.

I argue that this behaviour is symptomatic of a non-research-intensive university whose only interest lies in financial benefits (that is, research overheads) and not in the research itself or in retaining researchers.

Unless such cultures are changed, I have little faith that employment conditions will ever improve for contract researchers.

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