Birkbeck takes stance against casualisation

Birkbeck, University of London, is against casualisation of workers in the Higher Education sector and shares the concerns of campaigners and academics about labour conditions in the workplace.

Birkbeck is enormously proud of the contribution of all our teaching and scholarship staff, we offer harmonised pay and conditions and are transparent about the composition of staff in a way many other institutions are not.

Our unique model of predominantly part-time, evening only courses means we employ many part-time teaching staff, who are reported to HESA [the Higher Education Statistics Agency] as ‘typical’; whereas most institutions record part-time staff as ‘atypical’, rendering them invisible in this data.

However, a blogpost by campaigners Fighting Against Casualisation in Education (FACE) has compared Birkbeck’s teaching-only staff figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) to other institutions who may report their part-time staff in a completely different way. Thus the comparison is misleading.

A Times Higher Education (THE) article, published today (Tuesday 15 March), has used the FACE comparison, also without acknowledging that it does not compare like-for-like data.

The article suggests that the College uses more part-time teaching-only staff than any other institutional in higher education, and that this is associated with the use of casual staff.

Birkbeck strongly disputes the data comparison as presented in both the article and by FACE. We take a strong stance against casualisation and are an example of the good practice in transparency and equality that FACE is campaigning for.  

Our part-time teaching staff on fractional contracts have harmonised pay and conditions with full-time members of staff, including access to a pension scheme, paid family leave and maternity leave, entitlement to career breaks, paid holiday and sick pay.

In 2014/15, a third of teaching and scholarship staff were on permanent contracts; a quarter had over five years of continuous service with the College; 30 had over 15 years continuous service - testament to Birkbeck’s positive working environment and excellent conditions we offer.