Exclusive: Durham University to scrap nine month contracts because of pressure from academics

According to an email to Heads of Department shown to The Tab Durham

Hide Images

Durham University is planning to scrap nine-month contracts, according to an internal university email sent to Heads of Department and shown to The Tab Durham.

The email, sent by Professor Antony Long, Durham's Deputy Vice-Chancellor, states that "the previous requirement of a 9 month Teaching Fellow appointment is being changed".

The decision follows an online campaign by a group of casual staff at the university, which highlighted that work being done over the summer was not being reflected in their salaries.

The University and College union (UCU) backed the campaign and formally requested that all fixed-term contracts at the university should last for a minimum of 12 months.

Jon Bryan, UCU regional support official for the Northern Region, said: "The move will mean more security for staff and we will continue to work closely with the university on the other issues facing staff on insecure contracts."

The full text of the email reads:

A spokesperson for Durham Casuals told The Tab Durham: "We are delighted to hear that the university has listened to our concerns over 9 month contracts, and moved to scrap them as a result."

The statement continued: "There is more work to be done, however. Temporary contracts are still capped at 23 months, which is a month short of the two years required to accrue redundancy rights. We hope that the university will continue to work with us to ensure fair pay, stability, and recognition for all staff.

"We would very much like to thank all the students who have supported our campaign, either through student publications, social media, and directly contacting their departments.

"We believe that staff who feel secure and valued by their departments are in the best position to deliver quality education, and we look forward to working alongside students to achieve this."

Professor Antony Long, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Durham University, subsequently said in a statement: “At Durham University we recognise that our staff are key to our continuing success.

“That is why as part of our University Strategy we are investing in how we recruit, develop and reward colleagues, both in academia and in professional services.

“In particular, we want to ensure that our Teaching Fellowships are an attractive proposition and as beneficial as possible to both colleagues, often in the early stages of their careers, and our academic Departments.

“We are continually engaging with teaching staff to explore opportunities for their development.”