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Cardiff Uni’s School of Social Sciences to scrap ‘vital’ postgraduate teaching roles

The VP for Postgraduate students called the decision ‘incredibly shortsighted’

Postgraduate students at Cardiff University’s School of Social Science have been told there will be fewer, if any, teaching opportunities moving forward.

In an email from the university which was shared on X, current students were advised that the school’s present arrangements for teaching opportunities would no longer be in effect at the start of the next academic year.

This decision would mean that the current opportunity for PGR and PhD students to teach core modules for first-year undergraduates will now be restricted to those who have finished and acquired their doctoral degrees, leaving fewer, if any, graduate tutor possibilities in the school.

The email goes on to state that the invaluable teaching assistance of PGR and PhD students has greatly benefited undergraduates over the years.

However, it claims these changes are due to students’ changing needs, with new pressures emerging and causing teaching to become more complex and the current system less workable.

This news has provoked voices to speak out against the school’s decision. One voice in particular is Micaela Panes, VP Postgraduate at Cardiff Students’ Union.

Micaela told The Tab Cardiff : “PhD students are vital in delivering teaching to undergraduate students across the higher education sector, and these teaching opportunities are imperative to PhD students’ development and ability to progress into academic careers.

“The axing of teaching opportunities for PhD students in the School of Social Sciences is incredibly shortsighted and risks capping their career development and progression.

“The Students’ Union was not consulted regarding these changes or the pressures in which the school is aiming to respond to.

“It is our understanding that the ‘new emerging pressures’ highlighted in the email sent to SOCSI PhD students refers to the financial context faced by the University and the budgetary pressures put on Schools to make savings where possible.”

She continued by saying, officers at the Students’ Union are “incredibly disappointed” by the decision, which was made less than a year after PhD students received contracts for teaching and demonstrating.

She added: “These new contracts ensured the end of pay exploitation experienced by PhD students and it is morally concerning to see that once this exploitation was eliminated, schools have turned their back on providing opportunities for these students.

“We condemn this decision in the strongest possible terms and will be continuing to fight for the reinstatement of these opportunities within the School”.

A Cardiff University spokesperson said: “Doctoral students are members of the School of Social Sciences and very much appreciated as such; their academic studies are fully supported.

“Where there has been the opportunity to do so, the School has made available (limited) paid employment opportunities to its doctoral students and may continue to do so. This will be dependent, in any year, on available academic staff resource and undergraduate student numbers. Opportunities that arise will be advertised to our doctoral students through the usual channels.

“Doctoral students are also able to apply for positions in Academic Schools outside of their own, if suitable, and we will actively promote these opportunities as they become available. There are also teaching opportunities outside of the University facilitated by the Doctoral Academy. All PGR students can access these, and they are promoted through the Doctoral Academy channels.

“For the coming year we have developed our undergraduate teaching provision, particularly in the first undergraduate year, with an eye to a consistent learning experience across modules and programmes as the priority. We will shortly be advertising for a small number of teaching associates who will work as members of our academic faculty to support this endeavour. We expect this will also create job opportunities for newly graduated PhD students. Since initially advertising these posts, we met with SU representatives to discuss their concerns. We have also taken on board other feedback we received and have removed the adverts while we liaise with HR to ensure the wording accurately reflects the posts available.”

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