SOAS and Goldsmiths students call for end to precarious employment for professor on tenth contract in eight years

Students and teaching staff across the country have signed an online petition appealing to get a lecturer employed on a full-time basis, after eight years of precarious short-term contracts.

Feyzi Ismail, a senior teaching fellow in SOAS’s Department of Development Studies, is currently serving her tenth employment contract for the university and has never been offered an official post.

“What I am experiencing at SOAS is part of an increasing trend in academia for casualised staff doing the work of permanent staff but on worse pay and conditions,” she said. “My treatment is particularly surprising as SOAS claims to be making special efforts to improve BAME attainment gaps and the treatment of BAME staff. There is legislation to protect fixed-term employees’ rights, but some universities – including SOAS – appear to be going against the spirit of the law to try and deny valued staff permanent employment.”

Earlier this year, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) published data revealing that nearly 69,000 university staff are now employed on atypical academic contracts across UK universities. Of these, 23 per cent are employed on zero-hours contracts.  

A well-liked tutor at the Bloomsbury campus, Ismail also began teaching temporarily at Goldsmiths earlier this year, where her teaching has been praised.

Kevin Bathman, a Goldsmiths MA Cultural Studies student, says Ismail is “friendly and communicative”. He has helped circulate the petition online. “It is shocking to hear about how SOAS has been treating her, when in fact, she is an asset to the department and the school. She should be made permanent with immediate effect,” he said.  

This action follows SOAS’s recent surrender to years of increasing pressure to end outsourcing and precarious contracts for its cleaning staff, who were employed on similar, contract-only bases.

A spokesperson for SOAS said: “We cannot comment on individual cases. We follow appropriate procedures for internal HR matters which can be accessed here:”

If you would like to sign and share Feyzi’s petition, click here.

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