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Apr 20, 2016 07:04 AM EDT

Contractual Early Career Academics Staff Trending In Higher Education Jobs [VIDEO]


A report published by the University of College Union (UCU) reveals that contractual employment among early career academics are rampant among colleges universities. It claims that more than 50 percent of higher teaching staff is employed on fixed-term contracts. However, the report says that the numbers may be higher than that and that it is becoming a norm in higher education careers.

The study titled "Precarious Work in Higher Education: A Snapshot of Insecure Contracts and Institutional Attitudes" measures how many junior academics are working with insecure contracts. The report states that nearly half of academic teaching staff and more than half of academic staff or on contractual employment. This suggests that UK university students may be taught under the care of a teacher with fixed-term contracts. This could affect students in the long run as teachers in contractual employment may feel insecure working their jobs and thus cannot deliver the highest standard of service.

Vicky Blake, a PhD student working at Durham University shares that her teaching stint does not give her a livable wage. She has to hold down part-time positions at different universities to make ends meet as there is no guarantee that she can get a new contract for her academic job, The Guardian reports.

"I have to put a time limit on how long I can hold out for a proper research job, and I think that's really sad," Blake told the outlet. Additionally, Blake is one of the lucky ones because one of her part-time stints at a university earned her another job.

According to Times Higher Education, the report by UCU is an ongoing issue that has not been tackled by universities. Some universities reportedly claim that their teaching staff enjoys the flexibility that comes with contractual employment. The UCU called out the unavailability of university data regarding their employed teaching staff. It makes it hard for them to determine the actual figure of how many junior academics are on fixed-term contracts.

However, Universities and Colleges Employers Association (Ucea) says that the Hesa data they gathered say that a quarter of teaching staff in UK universities are on open-ended contracts. Those with contractual employment are actually paid students.

What do you think of fixed-term contracts in higher education jobs? Do you think the issue is bigger than it is? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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