A crammed lecture theatre for Eric Maskin's much anticipated talk

Why it’s time we stood up for our lecturers

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I consider myself incredibly lucky to be granted the privilege to attend university and take a course I adore. The chance to go to classes where I can talk and learn more about the subject I love is something I hope to never take for granted. Lecturers are fundamental to my university experience and it certainly wouldn’t be the same without them. Warwick is a good university, but it is made great by its teachers.

Which is why it makes me livid to know that insecure contracts, which include temporary and zero-hour contracts, are in widespread usage for lecturers’ pay. It doesn’t surprise me that the Russell Group has the highest number of these contracts in place. As a group of well-respected universities, the competition to conduct research within it and teach its students must be extraordinary.

Thus, they can almost do what they like to their employees and they know others will still apply. Even so, a part of me hoped that Warwick was an anomaly, that it valued its morals over the chance to gain profit and short-change our lecturers.

Lecturers are fundamental to my university experience and it certainly wouldn’t be the same without them

It is especially shaming to see that Warwick University, which has just completed the £19 million Oculus Building, has the second highest percentage of staff being exploited in this way. Just behind the University of Birmingham, our university has a shocking 68.1% of our lecturers on insecure contracts. Of all league tables, this is one we should be disgusted Warwick places so high.

To become a lecturer is no walk in the park. After getting a Masters and a PhD, dedicating their money and all their efforts into becoming a lecturer, to be given an insecure contract seems almost like a slap in the face. Having got this far and worked this hard, surely the least we can do is give them financial security.

To be given an insecure contract seems almost like a slap in the face

Let them have the most basic of human dignities like paying their rent on time. Allowing them to go grocery shopping and pay for bills without having to worry about when the next check comes in. Letting them get by without the fear mingling in the back of their minds that they won’t even get one at all.  Insecure contracts are an atrocity and need to stop. Now.

It’s not just them; there is a whole raft of professions which are being similarly mistreated and professionals who are pushed into these abusing contracts. Where are we as a society that we allow such indecent exploitation, that we treat our workers so poorly? What does it say about us that this has become the norm in our country? How can we expect workers to continue to be so mistreated and still have pride in their work?

Let them have the most basic of human dignities like paying their rent on time

People are not expendable. The workforce is not a commodity which you can exploit. We need to do something about it. This weekend I attended the NUS student demonstration in London. What struck me the most, standing in that sea of protesters, far more than the chants and the signs, were the people who turned up.

15,000 people were at that demonstration. Students, yes, but not just us. There were parents, office workers, activists and teachers among many others, sending the message that we as students weren’t alone. In the crowd and on the stage, lecturers were especially present, letting us know that they were supporting students’ rights. Well, I think it’s time we support them.

 

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