A Scottish university specifically seeking to recruit “zero-hour lecturers” has been criticised by trade unions for continuing to employ staff on the controversial contracts.
Edinburgh Napier University has advertised a series of zero-hour roles since January last year, most recently online on 16 May.
The advert, for “zero hour lecturers [in] Critical and Contextual Studies in Design”, advertises an annual salary of “£34,565 to £35,597” even though under such contracts, employees are not guaranteed any work at all.
Last year, Edinburgh Napier advertised for zero-hour lecturers in sport and exercise science; sexual and reproductive health; child protection; and acute adult nursing.
“Universities are now beginning to recognise that professional, happy and well-motivated workforces are not built on zero-hour contracts,” said David Belsey, national officer for further and higher education at the Educational Institute of Scotland.
Mary Senior, Scotland official at the University and College Union Scotland, said that other universities in Scotland had indicated that they were “moving away” from using “exploitative” zero-hour contracts.
A spokesman for Edinburgh Napier said that the university’s use of zero-hour contracts was kept to a minimum and was regularly reviewed.
“In terms of overall hours of teaching, less than 5 per cent is delivered by staff on zero-hour contracts,” he said. “These staff teach specialist subjects that may not be taught throughout the year, but are of real benefit for our students. As such they are on permanent contracts and have associated benefits.
“Many of the staff on these contracts have portfolio careers, and welcome the opportunity to do some lecturing alongside their other employment. This also means that our students learn from individuals with experience in different industries.”
A UCU survey last year revealed that more than half of UK higher education institutions use zero-hour contracts, with more than 24,000 academics and other staff on the deals across 71 institutions.
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