The scandal of casualisation

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), in 2018 there were 72,000 staff on highly casualised ‘atypical’ academic contracts.

At least 51,094 university teaching staff are on hourly-paid contracts, and at least 12,567 on zero-hours contracts. At the same time, 66% of research staff are on fixed-term contracts, with around a third of these contracts running for 12 months or less. All in all, the HE sector relies on far more than 100.000 casualised staff in teaching, research and academic-related professional roles.

These are the figures for casualisation nationwide. Unfortunately, at the University of Oxford, the picture isn’t any more rosy. Quite the contrary: 76.9% of academic and academic-related staff here are on fixed-term or atypical contracts – yes, that really are more than 3 in 4! Compared to a nationwide figure of ‘only’ 50.9%… another area we are among the ‘leading’ in the sector. [Please note the sarcasm]

This is more than 10 years after the new regulations for fixed-term contracts came into force – only one sign that we can’t rely on the employers to stick to vague promises of improving the job security and status of casualised HE workers.

Part of the joint 2018 higher education trade union pay and equality claim is a demand for a nationally-agreed framework for action on precarious contracts. We are calling for universities to commit to institution-level action plans to address security of employment and to begin time-limited negotiations with the trade unions.

The institution action plan should include specific commitments to end the use of zero hours contracts; commit to ending “worker arrangements” for teaching staff in favour of employee contracts; to transfer more hourly paid staff onto fractional employment contracts; and to commit to moving more research staff onto open-ended contracts and to create more employment security for researchers.

For all the statistics on casualisation in HE: UCU Stamp out casual contracts campaign

UCU has launched a major new survey on casualisation –
if you’re on an insecure contract please fill in the survey and share with any colleagues also on insecure contracts.

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