Out now! Precarious academic work in Oxford: Testimonies from Oxford Brookes and Oxford University UCU members

There is nothing inevitable about the levels of casualisation in the higher education sector, nor has it come about by accident; it is the result of universities’ reliance on a particular business model. After adjusting for inflation, the sector has seen its total income rise by around 15% over the last six years, while casualisation continues to grow.

Oxford Brookes UCU and Oxford University UCU have produced a report on precarious academic work and its impacts. The report includes testimonies from fixed-term and hourly-paid lecturers, researchers, and PGRs from the two institutions, as well as comments from permanent colleagues on how casualisation affects workloads and research culture.

Collecting and sharing these stories means giving voice to those who too often feel unable to question their terms of employment, for fear of having their hours cut or not having their fixed-term contract renewed. The final section of the report, ‘What can I do?’, includes practical suggestions on how all UCU members can challenge casualisation.

The testimonies were gathered in November and December 2021, after discussions at a joint open meeting held by the two branches. The report was initially launched in December, with speakers Pete Wood, UCU Anti-Casualisation Committee Co-Chair and associate lecturer at the Open University, Sanaz Raji, an independent scholar and activist, and founder of Unis Resist Border Controls, and Callum Cant, postdoctoral researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute and the author of Riding for Deliveroo: Resistance in the New Economy.

Download the full report here.

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