Postgrads left uncertain after King’s suspends hiring of Graduate Teaching Assistants

Some are relying on the income to support PhDs

Postgraduates have been left in a “state of uncertainty” after King’s indefinitely suspended hiring decisions for all Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities for next academic year, 2020-21.

In an email sent on the 28th of April to postgraduate students who had applied to become GTAs for 2021-21, Professor Marion Thain, Professor of Literature and Culture, and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities said there was “significant room for variability” in the number of students King’s expects to teach next academic year.

“I appreciate that this may be unwelcome news, and that this may introduce uncertainties for some of you who may factor GTA work into your own plans for next year,” she wrote. “Please rest assured that we continue to value enormously the work that you do as GTAs, both in terms of your contribution to the learning experience of our taught students, but also in terms of the value of the GTA experience to your own development.

Guy's Campus, King's College London

In the email, Professor Marion Thain explains the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the higher education sector as a whole meant decisions about hiring GTAs needed to be delayed “until the College position is clearer.”

“It will continue to be a priority for us to try to find opportunities for you to learn and develop as tutors in the course of your studies,” she wrote.

King's College London, Strand, London

In response, a “Fair Pay for GTAs” campaign has been launched to address “the untenable working conditions and hiring practices” experienced by King’s GTAs.

The campaign has penned an open letter to the Arts & Humanities Faculty, and King’s senior management team, which can be viewed and signed here.

The letter calls on the University to provide a definite date by which King’s will let prospective GTAs know whether or not they will have a job in September, and explains many postgraduate students “depend on teaching positions as a source of income.”

The letter says: “For many of us who are not funded and/or in our final years, this indefinite suspension makes it impossible for us to know whether we will be able to support ourselves to finish our PhDs.”

The campaign claims over 70 per cent of some courses at King’s are taught by GTAs.

The King’s Tab has contacted the University for further comment.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Exclusive: Leaked email reveals King’s teaching could be online until January 2021

Exclusive: King’s saved £700,000 in pay deductions during the 2018 strikes

King’s cancels all study abroad for the rest of 2020 due to COVID-19