Atypical questions

March 31, 2016

Responding to figures on teaching-only contracts released by Fighting Against Casualisation in Education last week, a spokesperson for Birkbeck, University of London claimed that including their institution in the data was unfair, as Birkbeck employs many part-time teaching staff “who are reported to Hesa as ‘typical’; whereas most institutions record part-time staff as ‘atypical’, rendering them invisible in this data” (“Universities ‘most reliant’ on teaching-only staff named”, 15 March).

There is, in fact, no “typical” category in the Hesa Staff Record. Furthermore, according to Hesa’s own guidance, the “atypical” category covers jobs that are very short-term, one-off or involve flexible or remote working. Examples given include “answering phones during clearing” and “organising a conference”. Teaching company schemes and teaching related to distance learning are specifically excluded, with the implication that ordinary teaching would be an even worse fit for the category. At no point does the guidance mention part-time contracts.

If institutions are systematically misreporting teaching staff as atypical, this is an entirely different – and perhaps more serious – issue than the one raised by Birkbeck.

Fighting Against Casualisation in Education (FACE)

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