TeachHigher 'disbanded' ahead of campus protest

The University of Warwick has scrapped controversial plans to use a scheme called TeachHigher to employ hourly paid teaching and research staff

June 2, 2015

In a message on the university’s website posted on 2 June, Warwick said that the “ongoing scrutiny of TeachHigher has become a distraction and TeachHigher should be disbanded”.

The announcement comes amid growing opposition to the planned academic services department at Warwick, which was initiated to establish a more consistent approach to the employment of hourly paid staff who work in different departments.

Trade unions, student groups and postgraduates have raised several concerns about the scheme, which they claimed would leave many staff on less favourable terms and conditions and without any guaranteed hours.

There were also fears the model could be rolled out across the sector in a franchise agreement similar to Unitemps, the Warwick Employment Group-run temporary employment agency for catering and other service staff.

TeachHigher was condemned at the University and College Union’s annual congress in a motion against the “outsourcing” of teaching to agencies, while a campus protest against it was due to be held on 19 June.

The scheme’s abolition has been welcomed by the UCU, which has campaigned against the scheme and wrote to Warwick last month, calling it “regressive”.

“We are very pleased Warwick has listened to our objections to its plans to shift staff on casual contracts to TeachHigher,” said Michael MacNeil, head of bargaining and negotiations at UCU.

“We believe it would have been a regressive move out of step with the progress we have made with other universities to improve the treatment of casually employed staff,” he added.

Announcing the end of TeachHigher, Warwick said that departments will now be asked to develop their “own approach based on the principles of transparency and fairness around nationally-agreed rates of pay”.

“This will extend to all hourly paid staff and other sessional staff and not just postgraduate research students involved in teaching,” it adds, with results feeding back into a pilot study.

jack.grove@tesglobal.com

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