SSEES TFs response to the Provost’s response

Dear Professor Michael Arthur,

We, SSEES Teaching Fellows, welcome your response to our open letter and would like to express our willingness to start working with both SSEES and UCL management in order to find a commonly acceptable resolution to the issues at hand. As previous attempts to raise our concerns individually and collectively have not always been productive, we are sure you understand that we are looking for quick progress and good will in resolving this situation. We would like to make it clear that our actions have resulted from long-lasting practices of casualisation and a deteriorating situation at SSEES, which has become unsustainable.

We find it reassuring that you made it clear that any unpaid work performed during the summer time needs to be rectified. However, we would like to reiterate that our main demand in the open letter "Full-Time Pay for Full-Time Work" covers a wider range of issues and not just work during the summer time. We would like to clarify that, although this year some out-of-contract late summer assessment setting and marking has been compensated on an hourly-paid basis, the vast majority of Teaching Fellows’ work remains unpaid. This includes working with personal tutees, developing new modules and materials, reflecting on and updating existing modules, conducting research necessary to bring into our teaching the concepts of  “connected curriculum” and “research-based and research-led” teaching, meeting online accessibility requirements, and supervising dissertations, to name just a few. We would like to point out that due to the heavy teaching and marking load during the terms, most Teaching Fellows work in excess of 1604 hours which is equivalent to 1 FTE at UCL. Moreover, many have to resort to carry on with their duties during the summer time when they are not paid in order to be ready for the next academic year. This understandably leads to Teaching Fellows being systematically overworked and underpaid throughout the year.  

We appreciate UCL’s commitment to take the issues related to Teaching Fellows’ contracts seriously. We note that information regarding the task force has been somewhat fragmented and has come from different sources. Clarity regarding its scope, goals and structure has not yet been established and communicated. In this respect, we would like to request that Teaching Fellows from all relevant departments across UCL participating in the task force have the opportunity to nominate their own delegates if they wish, thereby selecting those who they deem most representative. We also believe it is absolutely necessary to involve UCL-UCU representatives in the work of the task force. Additionally, we would like to emphasise the importance of our first demand for transparency and clarity in how contracts are constructed and assigned.  

Despite our willingness to work with you and SSEES management in finding appropriate solutions to these problems, we worry that given the lack of an appointed person responsible for overseeing changes across UCL as a whole, actions resulting from the work of the task force may fail to be implemented fully. Therefore, we request that Vice-Provost Professor Anthony Smith assume overall responsibility for improving the contracts and working conditions of Teaching Fellows at SSEES and across UCL.

We look forward to working together with you, Professor Smith and SSEES management in finding a solution to the problems Teaching Fellows face at SSEES and across UCL.  

Yours sincerely,

SSEES Teaching Fellows