Warwick SU opposes TeachHigher

Warwick’s Students’ Union (SU) has officially opposed the University’s TeachHigher scheme, following a motion which was brought to the final All Student Meeting (ASM) of the year.

The TeachHigher scheme was created by the University to improve working conditions for hourly paid workers. However, the scheme has come under fire for allegedly casualising education and worsening conditions for staff.

The motion, which was forwarded by postgraduate officer-elect Nat Panda and third-year Economics undergraduate Miguel Costa Matos, follows a series of concerns by student groups and Warwick UCU.

The pair raised opposition to TeachHigher on the grounds that the scheme lacks transparency, does not meet Tier 2 visa requirements, would place oppressed groups in precarious employment and increases casualisation at Warwick.

TeachHigher institutionalises the casualisation of some academics, creating an underclass in our Universities
Miguel Costa Matos

Since the motion was passed, the SU has now adopted official opposition to TeachHigher in its current form and in any future variation which does not meet Tier 2 Visa requirements.

According to motion documents, the Union must also now, “demand a fair rate of pay for teaching (including marking, preparation and office hours) at an appropriate point on the national pay scale.”

The motion also called for the SU to maintain solidarity and support for industrial action relating to the opposition of TeachHigher.

Mr Matos told the Boar: “We wanted the SU as the official, democratic representatives of students at Warwick to take a stand against TeachHigher. TeachHigher institutionalises the casualisation of some academics, creating an underclass in our Universities.

He added: “It’s not just bad for the staff concerned when they get paid trinkets (or nothing!) to mark. It’s bad for students and for the University as a whole.

TeachHigher Misunderstood

The University commented that TeachHigher would offer improvements for hourly paid academic staff.

Peter Dunn, Warwick’s director of Press and Policy, stated that the motion demonstrated “the level of misunderstanding of TeachHigher that underpins that very vote.”

Hourly paid staff at Warwick are currently on a Variable Monthly salary (VAM), which has been criticised in the past for failing to recognise the amount of time staff put into preparation and marking.

The University has suggested that the TeachHigher system will allow hourly paid staff to receive fairer pay, accurately record hours worked, whilst also receiving professional development opportunities.

Mr Dunn highlighted: “TeachHigher will not in any way reduce the rights of hourly paid staff, who are currently paid through a system known as VAM. It will in fact make those rights more explicit and it will provide much more equality and transparency in what people are actually paid for.”

The motion to oppose TeachHigher passed with 714 votes in support of the motion out of the 970 votes cast on the issue. 74% of voters at the ASM voted to oppose TeachHigher.

However, just 4% of the total student population of Warwick, which currently stands at 23,570, voted on this motion. This means that only 3% of Warwick students voted to oppose TeachHigher.

National Demonstration

Alongside the motion, Warwick students and staff are organising a protest against academic casualisation.

The protest, which has been called the ‘National Demonstration Against Casualisation and TeachHigher’, is set to take place on the 19 June on Library Road. This is the same date as Warwick’s first summer open day.

Photos: Warwick Media Library and National Demonstration Against Casualisation

Mr Costa Matos said: “The protest will need everyone’s participation so it becomes a wake-up call for Warwick to cut the crap and focus on what it does best: teaching and research.”

Mr Dunn stated that the University was aware of both the vote and the planned protest.

A statement from the SU will follow.


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