Almost half of the teaching and teaching-and-research staff at the University of Glasgow are on non-permanent or hourly-paid contracts, according to an investigation led by the Guardian newspaper.
Using data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the Guardian calculated that 48.7% of teaching staff at Glasgow University are on these low security contracts. This is the second-highest proportion of teaching staff on non-permanent contracts in Scotland, behind the University of Edinburgh where 66.6% of teaching staff are contracted under this arrangement.
The newspaper’s national analysis found that Russell Group universities were predominantly responsible for the use of casual contract teaching staff among all UK higher education institutions.
Reacting to the news, a representative from the Glasgow University Labour Club (GULC) told The Glasgow Guardian: “This is grotesque. This university is exceedingly wealthy – every year we end up with a surplus of millions. Muscatelli earns an obscene salary while almost half of all teaching staff languish on temporary contracts.
“This is no way to run a University. We support all industrial action by lecturers and tutors to resolve this situation.”
A spokesperson for the University told The Glasgow Guardian, “The University of Glasgow is a fully accredited living wage employer and we are absolutely committed to providing the best package of pay and conditions for all of our colleagues.”
The continued: “Part of our Extended Workforce Policy, introduced in late 2014 following detailed discussion with our trade union partners, UCU in particular, states that the University of Glasgow is ‘committed to engaging all members of our workforce on the most appropriate contract and to doing this in a fair and transparent way’”.
In the first year after this policy was introduced the University issued over 1000 employment contracts for demonstrator and graduate teaching roles, previously run on a casual basis. The new contracts are typically for “a very small number of hours”, roughly 3-5 per week during term.
“The majority of such small part-time roles are carried out by our postgraduate student population and we consider this an important element of our employability agenda. It is important to understand that few individuals who are employed in such circumstances would want, or be able, to take up full-time positions.
“Many of our remaining casual workers are also students who assist with events such as open days. All such staff receive at least the Living Wage as we are an accredited Living Wage Employer, again a signal of the university’s support for the fair work agenda. Those engaged in teaching and demonstrating are paid at the appropriate grade in our pay structure.
“We have also been actively reducing the number of zero hours employment contracts in use at the University and since the publishing of our new policy no such contracts have been issued. We continue to consult our staff on zero hours employment arrangements with the aim of transitioning to different forms of contract and the number has more than halved since 2014.”
The University of Glasgow has more six-figure salaried top staff than any other university in Scotland. Glasgow employs fifteen individuals on a salary exceeding £200,000 per annum, whereas the universities of St Andrews and Strathclyde each employ just two individuals at this pay level. The University has the seventh highest number of employees earning over £100,000 per annum across the UK university sector as a whole, with eighty employees earning more than the British Prime Minister.
In May this year, teaching staff went on strike after receiving a 1.1% pay rise, just one year after university management staff benefited from a 5.1% increase in their salary. The UCU expressed concern at the time that lecturers were facing a squeeze on their income, dramatic pay inequality and increasing job insecurity.
Edit: Salary figures of top staff at the University of Glasgow were originally incorrectly reported as “fourteen individuals on a salary exceeding £300,000 per annum”. The figures have since been edited to the correct salary.