Breaking: Durham Uni vows to ‘investigate immediately’ after rebel academics set up fiery Twitter account
The account gained over 1,000 followers within 24 hours of going live
Durham University has responded to the emergence of a Twitter account calling the uni "exploitative", by promising to "investigate immediately" any cases that breach its policies.
The account's first tweet, which announced the group's plans, was widely favourited and shared across Twitter:
We are a group of Durham academics who want to draw attention to exploitative precarious employment practices at Durham. Please follow and retweet us to help draw wider attention to the issues of 9 month contracts, hourly-paid lecturers, and over-burdening PhD students.
— Durham Casuals (@Durhamcasuals) April 25, 2018
The group, named 'Durham Casuals', wrote in a statement shown to The Tab Durham and Palatinate: "We oppose the proliferation of short-term, casualised contracts at Durham", calling them "exploitative for early-career staff and detrimental to students’ education."
'Durham Casuals' told The Tab Durham that the account tweets on behalf of "around 95 people" who share a Facebook group.
Some of the particular claims made by the account so far include:
"Hourly-paid lecturers in the English department are required to pay for their own printing"
"The university has recently recruited a large number of staff on 9 month contracts. These contracts mean that pre-term teaching prep in September is unpaid, and staff are left jobless over the summer (given that new academic posts invariably start in October)."
Students were quick to support many of the account's claims:
My University is an absolute joke… and is actually a microcosm for the failures of the UK Higher Education system…. Students are in a ridiculous amount of debt and barely any is going to the people actually educating us? Paid a meal deal to mark my incoherent babbling? https://t.co/yW9PjiNiHN
— Kirsty (@_Just_Logan_) April 27, 2018
However, Durham University has confirmed that no staff are expected to pay for their printing.
Meanwhile, nine-month contracts are already in declining use: for the academic year 2017/18, 11 staff are on nine-month contracts.
For 2018/19, just two nine-month contracts have been offered.
Professor Antony Long, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost at Durham University, said: “We recognise that our staff are key to our continuing success.
He continued: “We are keen to hear the views of staff on these important issues and colleagues are encouraged to use departmental channels to contribute to improving our University together.
“Where any cases that appear to breach our policies are raised, we will investigate immediately.”
The full text of Durham Casuals' statement, shown exclusively to The Tab Durham and Palatinate, can be viewed below: