Boycott of College Supervisions launched: how you can help the campaign win


Justice4CollegeSupervisors is a campaign of Cambridge UCU demanding fair working conditions for supervisors of undergraduate students. Supervisions take place in small-groups and are the backbone of the Cambridge undergraduate education. 90% of undergraduate supervisors are not on payroll – which means that only 10% of a total of around 5000 supervisors are properly contracted for the work they do. Half of supervisions are delivered by graduate students, post-docs, and other freelancers – who work for extremely low pay as self-employed or with a zero-hours contract (if they are on a Tier4 visa). Some Colleges pay their fellows (who normally are University Teaching Officers) a higher pay for supervisions. Some Colleges employ College Teaching Officers as full-time employees who focus on delivering supervision teaching.

Our demands are:

  • for mandatory training to be paid [UPDATE – the Colleges have now conceded this demand as a result of our campaign]
  • for the base pay rate to be raised
  • for all workers to have fair contracts

The 31 Cambridge colleges are our employers – not the University. We have been publicly campaigning for years for our three demands. Our campaign has mainly consisted of small, disruptive actions, such as adding statements of complaint to our invoices,delivering open letters, and picketing. Despite these efforts, all of our demands are yet to be met.

Based on all of our work so far, our campaign is strong: we’ve delivered open letters with over 1200 signatures, held multiple large rallies, and coordinated campaigns of complaint on CamCORS in which hundreds of supervisors participated.

Our action so far is what brought the Colleges to the table in the first place and it will be our continued action that wins us our remaining demands.

This is why we have no choice but to boycott the supervision system in Michaelmas 2023! 

Our boycott will put the supervision system to a halt and we will collectively force the colleges to provide us with the working conditions and pay that we deserve.  The more of us participate, the faster we can force the colleges to accept our demands. Together, we will win!

What you can do if you’re a …

  • Supervisor:
    • sign our pledge to join the boycott (download a pdf here, fill out and save and email to with your phone number if you’d like to be added to our WhatsApp group organising the campaign.
    • read our detailed and regularly updated FAQ here
  • A UCU member who doesn’t do college supervisions:
    • show your support for the campaign on social media (look out for regular updates on the CUCU Twitter account)
    • join J4CS protests and actions when they are advertised
  • A member of the public or another trade union:
    • support us on social media and tell the Colleges that they should meet our demands for fair pay and contracts.