SOAS management have agreed to campaigners’ fair pay demands after teaching staff refused to mark essays.
Bosses agreed to the demand that essay marking be moved from the 2.5 hour ‘multiplier’ paid to fractional teaching staff for every hour-long class taught.
It came after a recent survey by campaign group Fractionals For Fair Play (FFFP) found that for the average fractional member of staff, 40% of their work goes unpaid.
Fractional staff were previously required to prepare classes, answer emails, discuss the course with its convenor and mark essays inside their 2.5 hour multiplier. However they will now be paid on an hourly basis in the same way as permanent, full-time members of staff.
The change will be backdated for the current academic year, meaning many will get a cash boost.
Campaigners estimate this agreement will cost the university around £224,000 a year, but suggested the final figure could be much lower than this.
One of the fractional teaching staff involved in the campaign pointed out this was “just a bit lower” than SOAS Director Baroness Valerie Amos’ £225,000 annual salary.
Management also agreed to a full audit of university contracts to be conducted by auditing firm KPMG. They further agreed to a £100,000 research fund to support the research requirements of teaching fellows.
Fractional staff are those on a contract that requires them to reapply for their jobs on an annual basis. Managers tend to favour these contracts as they allow them to be flexible with staff numbers, dependent on the size of the student body.
This can lead to significant job insecurity. An FOI revealed that over the 2015-16 academic year, 120 teaching and research staff on fix termed contracts were made redundant at SOAS.
Fractional staff make up 49% of teaching staff at SOAS, while 33% of staff across the Higher Education sector are on some kind of non-permanent contract.
FFFP’s campaign comes in the context of the ongoing casualisation of contracts for teachers at universities and the marketisation of Higher Education as a whole. It was led by anonymous academics and strongly supported by student-led groups such as the Justice for Workers campaign.
As one of the campaigners told LS: “This is why the struggle is so important, it’s not just about us it’s about what a university should be. A place to create new ideas, to engage, to give to students the ability to be critically engaged with the world today.
“This is also what everyone is fighting for, to give value to this.”