Supervision Work is Real Work: Launching the College Anti-Casualisation Campaign

Cambridge UCU and the Graduate Union have been campaigning in recent years to improve the rights and conditions of casualised teachers in the collegiate university, including through the CUCU anti-casualisation claim in 2018, the negotiations led by CUCU with the University since 2019, and the GU’s work on supporting postgraduate students who teach. We are now launching a college anti-casualisation campaign to obtain paid training for postgraduate students who teach and supervise, and to transform hourly-paid supervision jobs into real jobs.

The college system relies upon a pool of underpaid, undervalued and often unrecognised casualised academic workers drawn from postgraduate students, freelancers and postdocs. In 2017-2018 alone, these groups taught 45% of undergraduate supervisions. This supervising load comes at a heavy cost for these casualised staff: they experience significant and unpaid demands on time in the training, planning and preparation for supervisions, uncertainty arising from unpredictable hours, and meagre remuneration offered by the colleges. Supervision work is real work that is at the core of Cambridge’s undergraduate teaching model. Unpaid training, poor remuneration and lack of contracts should not be brushed off as a fair price to pay for the “experience” of teaching, especially at a time when the academic job market is undergoing a hiring freeze of historical proportions. The COVID19 crisis makes it even more imperative to address one of the key areas of casualisation at Cambridge, to ensure that the pandemic does not accelerate or entrench existing levels of precarity at the university.

Below, you can read the paper on Paid Training for Postgraduates who Teach and Supervise that the GU sent to the Senior Tutors Committee in February:


And below you’ll find paper on the Pilot Cross-Appointed College Lectureship Scheme that CUCU and GU sent to the Senior Tutors Business Committee in June: