Academic Workforce Profiling /
The University recognises the valuable contribution made by hourly paid lecturers (HPLs). They provide schools with the flexibility necessary to react to changes in staffing needs, they provide a mechanism for recruiting specialists and they allow the University to provide employment opportunities for our postgraduate students. However, over the years, the number of HPLs employed by the University has been steadily increasing. Although there are many good reasons why engaging an HPL may have been the right way to meet a teaching need it is clear that, like many others in the sector, we have become over-reliant on this approach.
Many HPLs have been relied on to deliver some of our core undergraduate teaching, sometimes year after year. However, none of them have the security of an ongoing academic contract with the opportunity for professional development.
We are committed to delivering an excellent education and student experience, and believe that other staffing models would better support the delivery of this commitment, ensure better financial value and provide enhanced academic career opportunities for many colleagues.
About the project
The Academic Workforce Profiling project launched in September 2018 and will be overseen by a Steering Group led by Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, David Nightingale, the Faculty Deans, HR and representative Heads from all three faculties. Throughout the project, the principles, policies and processes developed as part of the Recognising Excellence in Academia project and the lessons learned in their application in the HPL Pilot project in early 2018 will be used to guide the work.
The Academic Workforce Profiling project will help schools to review the make-up of their academic workforce and, where appropriate, to reduce reliance on HPLs by creating new salaried academic posts.
The project will also seek to clarify and improve relevant policies and processes to reduce the risk of a future return to an over-reliance on HPLs for our ongoing teaching needs.
There are two phases to the project. During Autumn Term 2018, schools will be asked to review the make-up of their academic workforce with the support of HR. The aim is to reach a decision on whether, and how many, new salaried academic positions should be created,
During Spring Term 2019, schools which identify a need to change the profile of their workforce will continue to work with HR to implement those decisions with the intention of finalising the project in time for the start of the next academic year.
The following documentation provides additional information and updates on project initiation and progress:
Academic Workforce Profiling
During the Autumn Term the project team has been working with schools to help them review the make-up of their academic workforce. This included reviewing the type of work offered to staff via an Hourly Paid Lecturer contract, the reasons for engaging staff in this way and whether any of this work could be better undertaken via academic positions (either T&S or T&R), which could then be ring-fenced to HPL staff within their school.
This work has found that, for the vast majority of HPLs, there is likely to be no major change in their employment with the University of Kent. In a large number of situations, HPL contracts are used to engage subject/industry specialists, provide teaching cover for substantive staff, or provide work for our PhD students (something which the University wishes to continue to do).
The Extended Executive Group (EEG) are, in principle, satisfied that schools need to be able to continue to offer these types of work in a flexible manner. They have though asked the project team to work with schools and trades union and staff representatives to confirm whether an HPL contract is the most appropriate method of engagement, or whether alternative contractual arrangements could be created which might be more appropriate and are easier for both staff and schools to manage.
Some schools have put forward initial proposals for change to EEG. These schools wish to create a number of new academic positions so as to help provide a firmer guarantee of academic continuity, better student experience and stronger, more flexible academic communities. EEG have confirmed that they are satisfied with the rationales provided and have approved the business cases in principle.
Early indications suggest that approximately 20 new salaried academic positions will be created. These new positions will initially be ring-fenced to approximately 60 HPLs in the relevant schools. If proposals are agreed by our University Council, then formal consultation with affected staff, the relevant trades unions and staff representatives will commence in the New Year. Whilst every effort will be made to find alternative positions for staff who are not successful in applying for these new roles, we regret that there is likely to be a requirement for some redundancies among that group of 60 staff. The University is committed to working with the relevant trades unions and staff representatives to try to avoid redundancies or mitigate their effects where possible.
The project team has also been looking at the current multiplier rate for HPLs to determine if it is still appropriate, seeking input from schools, staff employed on HPL contracts and trades unions representatives. Following this review, EEG have approved in principle a number of changes to the multiplier calculations:
- The multiplier will continue to be used and the base multiplier calculation will remain at 2.5, but with a more transparent approach to holiday pay, which will be paid in addition to this.
- To recognise that this rate is an average, and that in some instances preparation and marking (which make up the multiplier rate) can take longer to undertake, EEG have asked that a new framework is created which allows schools to make additional payments where appropriate.
EEG have asked the project team to work with schools and trades union and staff representatives to develop appropriate additional payment frameworks over the coming months.
Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs)
A steering group led by the Dean of the Graduate School and comprising academic and professional services staff has also carried out a review of the GTA scheme operated by Kent.
GTAs make an invaluable contribution to the University’s research and overall student experience and, following the review, the University remains committed to offering opportunities for GTAs in future.
The review found that there is confusion and a lack of consistency around the current scheme, especially in respect of the contract, working hours and annual leave. EEG have agreed that further work is required to provide greater clarity in the way that the scheme operates. As part of this, the maximum total working hours for a GTA in the future will be set at 200 a year, with an annual leave entitlement of 40 hours in addition. The flexibility GTAs and schools currently have in how they work these hours will remain, but a limit will be set on the number of hours that can be carried over from year to year, to ensure that the employment element does not detract from their PhD. These changes will be supported by the creation of an operating handbook for schools to ensure greater consistency of approach in managing the scheme. This piece of work will be overseen by a new governance group, the membership of which will include GTA and UCU representation.
Over the coming months, the project team will continue to work with schools, staff, trades unions and staff representatives to implement all of these changes in time for the start of the 2019/20 academic year.
Please click the link below to access the latest version of the Frequently Asked Questions connected to the Academic Workforce Profiling project