Researchers who teach for free

April 14, 1995

Those justifiably outraged by the thought of graduate students in Australia being forced to teach without pay might spare a thought for the growing trend in the United Kingdom for this kind of arrangement.

The scarcity of funding for research has resulted in a significant increase in the number of internal bursaries from UK institutions with teaching requirements built in.

While it is bad enough that students should be exploited in this way there is a further twist to the knife in the way the funding itself is calculated. As a social sciences researcher my funding is pegged to the minimum Economic and Social Research Council rate of (for 1993/94) Pounds 4,910. Under ESRC conditions there would be additional payments covering mature students allowance, disability allowance, fieldwork, dependants, etc, but this is not the case with bursaries.

The result is an alarming trend whereby research students are given the "minimum" payments which they would get from a funding body and are expected to teach up to four contact hours per week gratis. Laughably this is called "full-time" research! Because of the low levels of funding some students, particularly those with families, are put under the additional pressure of having to have a part-time job away from the university, effectively subsidising the institution's teaching bill as a consequence. I do not know just how bad this situation is becoming in the UK but it will do untold damage to the research profile of British universities if it becomes the norm.

I would be grateful if anyone with information on this type of arrangement in British institutions would contact me at a.w.cameron@sussex.ac.uk so that a clearer picture can be built up of just how bad things are getting.

Angus Cameron

Sussex University

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