Around 30,000 jobs may be on the line at universities – we have to fight back

Jul 28, 2020 by

Universities employ armies of casualised staff, who are seen as disposable when a crisis hits. This isn’t fair

As we at the University and College Union (UCU) lobby the Westminster government for an urgently needed bailout, thousands of the most vulnerable university employees are already losing their jobs.

They are vulnerable because the employment model which has developed in higher education in the past 30 years has seen rising levels of casualisation. One third of all academics working in academia are employed on fixed-term contracts, rising to almost half for teaching-only academics (49%) and more than two thirds (67%) for research-only staff. Black and minority ethnic (BAME) academic staff are more likely to be employed on a fixed-term contract, with more than two-fifths (42%) on a fixed-term contract compared to less than a third (31%) of white academic staff.

This reserve army has always been seen as expendable by employers. Every couple of years thousands of researchers are forced to move institutions as their fixed-term contracts end. The summer is an anxious time for casually employed teaching staff as they wait to find out if they have any work in the autumn.

But this year is different. At King’s College London, more than a thousand fixed-term staff have been told their contracts are under review. At the University of Liverpool more than 600 face the sack, while the number is around 400 at Goldsmiths and close to 300 at Essex.

That’s almost 2,300 jobs going at just four institutions we know about. If this picture was repeated across the sector then almost 30,000 fixed-term contracts would be at risk.

Source: Around 30,000 jobs may be on the line at universities – we have to fight back | Jo Grady | Education | The Guardian

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