As graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) within the University of Glasgow, we were interested to see Anton Muscatelli, our principal and vice-chancellor, and new chair of the Russell Group, declare that teaching is the “raison d’être of universities” (“Russell Group chair: teaching is ‘raison d’être’ of universities”, 24 October).
Sadly, however, the sentiment that teaching is the “ raison d’être of universities” does not accord with how Glasgow treats those of us who undertake that teaching.
Several GTAs in the School of Social and Political Sciences (providing the bulk of pre-honours and, increasingly, postgraduate teaching) are entering week eight of the semester without having received any form of remuneration. This is a direct breach of contract.
Originally, we were told that we would not be paid until week 10 of the semester; but after our mobilising efforts, we were informed that we would receive payment in week seven. Week seven has now passed, and many of us have yet to be paid.
We do not do this job for “pocket money”. We are highly qualified professionals and academics. Semester after semester, course conveners within the school tell us that GTAs receive the best scores in student evaluations of teaching. And for many of us, the payment that we receive from teaching is our sole source of income. While we appreciate the praise of our students and peers, we rely on regular wages to pay our rent, mortgages and bills; to feed ourselves and our families; and to travel to the campus, where many of us also undertake PhDs.
Failure to pay us in a timely manner has a devastating impact on our lives and the lives of those around us. This causes a huge amount of stress and anxiety.
Glasgow University GTAs against Exploitation