Fury over Edinburgh fellowship with no pay for summer months

Hundreds sign petition calling for teaching post to receive salary in July and August

May 3, 2019
University of Edinburgh

Academics have hit out at a “disgraceful” job advertisement for a teaching fellow at the University of Edinburgh that offers no pay over the summer.

The part-time role in English literature, on a 17-and-a-half hours a week contract, covers a temporary absence from September 2019 to December 2020 and comes with a salary of £33,199 to £39,609 per annum, pro rata.

The original job advertisement said the “post will be pay suspended during the months of July and August 2020 when no work will be available”.

It has subsequently been amended to say that “for the months of July and August working hours will be zero” and that “salary is calculated on an annualised basis and paid in 12 equal monthly instalments initially”.

An open letter calling on Edinburgh to do the “decent thing” and pay all its staff for the entire duration of their contract attracted more than 300 signatures in less than 24 hours after being launched by Anindya Raychaudhuri, a lecturer in English at the University of St Andrews.

The letter sets out “how anyone who has had any kind of teaching-only position in higher education knows” that they are always expected to work over the summer.

“I don’t believe the new wording changes any of the actual conditions of the job,” Dr Raychaudhuri told Times Higher Education. “You still don’t get paid for the work you do over the summer. I think it is absolutely disgraceful.”

Grant Buttars, president of the University and College Union’s Edinburgh branch, said that the job advert should be removed and that Edinburgh should “ensure all posts are properly remunerated”.

UK universities’ use of nine-month contracts that cover only the main academic year has proved controversial, with frequent calls for them to be scrapped.

Durham University announced last year that it would employ all teaching fellows for a minimum of 12 months, increasing the pressure on other institutions to follow suit.

“I think there are many, many issues with nine-month contracts, but if anything this goes further,” said Dr Raychaudhuri.

An Edinburgh spokesman said the original job advert “contained an error, which has since been corrected”.

“We value the work of our teaching fellows,” the spokesman said. “We have recently agreed with the trade unions further improvements around pay and conditions, which mean staff will get a guaranteed salary every month, regardless of the pattern of their work.”

nick.mayo@timeshighereducation.com

POSTSCRIPT:

Print headline: Fury over fellowship with summer pay vacation

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Reader's comments (2)

An update on the petition - as of Friday morning, it has attracted nearly 500 signatures and is still climbing.
Why have a picture of the School of Divinity attached to this article? Yes, New College is an iconic feature of Edinburgh's skyline & an architectural jewel in the the university's crown but the institution has nothing to do with this job and should not be associated with it by implication.

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