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Improving our offering for Teaching Fellows at UCL

30 September 2020

A recent consultation has sought to better understand the experiences and concerns of UCL’s Teaching Fellows. A set of principles have now been agreed to address concerns expressed during the consultation.

Improving our offering for Teaching Fellows at UCL

Dear Colleagues,

Teaching Fellows contribute enormously to the UCL community and our students' education and wellbeing. It is important Teaching Fellows, together with all teaching staff, feel valued and are fairly treated. A recent consultation has sought to better understand the experiences of Teaching Fellows, which include concerns about  workload and the casualisation of contracts.

The consultation involved Teaching Fellows from a range of career stages, Heads of Department, Directors of Operations, Departmental Managers, and Vice Deans from across UCL, coming together to form the UCL Teaching Fellow Review Group. In addition, views were captured using an online survey open to all staff (336 responses) and meetings were held with representatives from UCU.

The following set of principles aims to address issues emerging from the consultation, including working culture, conditions and support, contractual arrangements, equity of job titles, career development and remuneration. Following consultation with Academic Board, these principles have been agreed by the UCL Deans and the current crisis leadership structure and they will be operationalised through the development of a number of new policies, revisions to existing policies, and significant change in practice across UCL.

Culture, conditions and support 

Responsibility: Deans HODs, VPs 
Timeframe: as soon as possible and during academic year 2020/21

  • Every effort will be expended within Departments, Faculties and by VPOs to ensure parity of esteem between those on teaching and academic contracts.
  • Those on teaching contracts will be fully integrated into Departments, and into the wider academic life of UCL. 
  • There will be fair workloads for those on teaching contracts, with transparent Departmental workload models that include equitable allowances for teaching, marking, preparation, and student support activities. 
  • Time will be allowed within workloads for scholarship and research to underpin research-based education (normally a minimum of10% and a maximum of 15% of workload). 
  • Time will be allowed within workloads for continuing professional development, within Arena, elsewhere in UCL, or outside (to be included in the 10-15% of workload above). 
  • Heads of Department will hold explicit responsibility for ensuring that those on teaching contracts are appraised and supported in their career ambitions and progression, and that opportunities for undertaking enabling and leadership roles are made available. 
  • Vice Provosts will hold explicit responsibility for ensuring that all relevant UCL funding schemes managed from their Offices are open to those on teaching contracts. 

Open-ended, fixed term and fractional contracts

Responsibility: HODs, Deans and HR
Timeframe: as soon as possible during academic year 2020/21

  • The normal expectation will be that core teaching and student support activities will be delivered by staff on open-ended contracts.
  • Fixed term contracts will be used for the employment of Teaching Fellows in the following circumstances: 
    • to replace staff who are on maternity/ paternity/ sick leave; 
    • to replace staff who are bought out on research grants;
    • to pilot new/ risky activities;
    •  to replace staff who are engaged in other work within UCL for a short period of time, or who are seconded outside UCL; 
    •  to provide additional teaching capacity at short notice due to increased, unexpected student demand; 
    • where industry expertise is required.
  • Small fractional fixed term contracts (0.1, 0.2. 0.3 fte) will be avoided wherever possible and will primarily be used for highly specialist teaching. Careful attention will be paid to workloads within small fractional fixed term contracts.
  • Short fixed term contracts (of less than a year) will be avoided wherever possible, and there will be no 9 or 10 month (summer lay-off) contracts. Term-time-only contracts will only be used when positively chosen by the employee.
  • Rolling annual fixed term contracts, where people are repeatedly re-employed year after year, will not be used – only one renewal is permissible before a contract should be converted to open-ended. 
  • Fixed term teaching contracts will require the approval of the Faculty Dean, and Deans will hold responsibility for ensuring the consistent application of these principles in their Faculties.

UCL level issues of equity and fairness

Responsibility: Heads of Department and HR
Timeframe: new contracts to be effective from 1 October 2020, and fully processed by 31 December 2020

  • In order to promote equality of status and esteem for those on teaching contracts the following job titles will be used in future: Associate Lecturer (Teaching) G7, Lecturer (Teaching) G8, Associate Professor (Teaching) G9, and Professor (Teaching) G10.  Please note that these titles do not bring the roles under the scope of Statute 18. 
  • In the future, to reserve the role of Associate Lecturer (Teaching) G7 for fixed term contracts, and to only appoint to open-ended contracts at G8 and above (as is now policy on the academic (research and teaching) track.
  • In order to facilitate career progression and development a new ‘change of track’ element within the annual senior promotion process will be adopted, involving an application against the criteria for the next grade. This will allow for promotion to Associate Professor (G9) or Professor (G10) and change of track. G10 Professorial Teaching Fellows could also apply to move tracks as part of this process. 
  • In order to promote equity in pay and reward all Teaching Fellows roles will be reviewed and those who meet the criteria for G8 will be regraded.
  • Relocation allowances will be offered to those on open-ended teaching contracts at G8+, on the same basis as those on academic contracts. This might need a phased introduction, given current financial constraints.

Professor Sasha Roseneil, Dean of Social and Historical Sciences 
Evelyn Eguridu, Head of HR SLMS 
Dr Matthew Blain, Executive Director of HR