Letter: Casual staff routinely neglected (1)

May 4, 2001

I can attest to the downside of contract work ("Short term and shortchanged?" Analysis, THES , April ).

My experience in six northern institutions has made me realise the level of utter indifference to part-time staff in higher education, with a small light on the horizon coming into view only when conditions are perfect.

Rarely afforded any sort of accommodation, let alone phone, email, printing card, car-parking space or even ID, we simply fill a gap and are paid for it, sometimes within a reasonable time from handing in a claim, and often after pestering for many weeks for a contract.

We are expected to attend meetings without pay, develop schemes of work, material and assessments without pay and, occasionally, complete module specifications without pay. We are also expected to teach in odd hours throughout the week, often travelling long distances from home and between campuses.

In some places, supervising exams and marking are done in our own time and the cost of returning scripts and so on is at our expense.

I have never been through an induction, never been introduced to personnel, never had any staff development and never had an appraisal. No member of the faculty has sat in on any of my lectures, although I have been inspected several times by the Quality Assurance Agency and attracted comments of excellent practice and excellent materials. More fool us for enjoying contract life.

Michael P. Coyle

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