If you have been a STP tutor last academic year, you will have received an email by STP last week, with an invitation to participate in a survey, which will close THIS FRIDAY (14/09) at midnight.
You might have semi-ignored this message or thought to deal with it later, given that you are still on a well deserved break from teaching. Which is, of course, exactly the point of the timing of this survey, sent as it is during the last stretches of the summer holidays with little time to respond. Make no mistake; if they won’t be receiving enough, or critical enough, feedback, they will use it politically to claim that there are no problems with STP.
This is why it is important that as many tutors as possible respond to the survey, and this is why we ask you to respond to it before the deadline. It should be a rather quick exercise.
Of course every response should be individual.But we also realise that given the short frame of this survey, people might by default drop a very short feedback with the issues that immediately spring to mind rather than reflecting on experiences that date perhaps a bit further back. So if you are in need of some inspiration for the open comment boxes, here are some critical points that we brainstormed. Again, PLEASE DON’T COPY & PASTE, but express these points in your own way, and only make points that either reflect your individual experience or that are more general political points that you want to make. We’ll talk you through the survey question by question
How easy did you find the use of the Sessional Teaching payroll website including submitting your timesheet, finding contract information and requesting holiday pay?
- I don’t understand why it is necessary to submit timesheets when I do the same hours every week
- Contract information is, apart from the assignment statement, not available through the homepage. I know that there is a STP document library available on the HR homepage, including documents that are not included in the email I received at the beginning of term; I don’t understand why there is no link on the STP portal to that page
- The website does not include a summary of hours claimed, leaving us to do the maths to make sure we don’t under/over claim
How did you find the overall STP process as explained by your department/STP Team ?
- Departments have interpreted the framework wrongly and not paid the correct hours. Individuals often found out a lot later.
- Especially, I was allocated the wrong advice and feedback hours, and / or was in theory eligible for red-circling but was not told so and was paid too little. I only found out about it later.
- I did not understand exactly how many hours I was entitled to and claimed less hours than I could have, finding out much later.
- STP tutor forums were established late, and their purpose not explained properly. As far as I am aware, they were not mentioned in the handbook or T&Cs either, yet at one point I was told that these forums feed back into larger decision making about STP and are therefore quite important, which I was not aware about
- My department has been unclear and intransparent in their communications about my teaching contract. I have been invited to apply only to find out later that I was barred from specific types of teaching or that my year was not going to be offered teaching at all. These communications were only passed on to those who queried the department’s teaching allocation and only after the deadline for teaching at other institutions had passed.
- My department did not factor in that I need a second year of teaching in order to gain further teaching qualifications, such as APP:PGR. The department did not offer teaching to those who have already taught during their PhD, thus effectively preventing me from gaining additional qualifications.
- My department has significantly cut down on PGR teaching after the introduction of STP, due to the higher cost. Given the job market and the introduction of lectureships (often to replace teaching fellowships) that require significant teaching experience (incl. Honours level teaching), this puts me in an even more precarious situation once I enter the job market. I feel that STP and my department are not doing enough to ensure I have good chances on the job market.
Question 3 :
(How would you rate your overall experience of being engaged through Sessional Teaching Payroll?
- To be answered individually
Please leave any additional feedback or comments. We would be particularly keen to hear about any aspects of STP that you think were particularly good or indeed any aspects that caused you any concern; this information will be of particular value as we seek to improve the system. (4000 characters max.)
- I don’t understand why a role that I teach was previously paid in FA 6/5 and is now FA 5/4
- I find that the role description of my assignment does not match my experience level, and /or the work I am regularly doing as part of my role
- I have a particular issue with my assignment – I find that I spend a lot more time on marking than I get paid / especially exam marking in comparison to essay marking
- I am an STP tutor in CLL and I am appalled at the fact that my terms and conditions are so much worse than those of my colleagues in other departments
- I have received an STP offer and calculated my finances on this basis only to have it withdrawn shortly before term started. This greatly impacted on my finances and I was extremely upset by how easily this kind of work was withdrawn
- I was sick/ on maternity/ paternity/ adoption leave during the period and was told I was not eligible to receive statutory pay / I am/ was worried of being sick / maternity/ paternity/ adoption leave and am not sure whether I would be eligible for statutory pay
- I am on a tier 4 visa and after having started to teach I was suddenly told that my Visa was incorrect and that I had no right to work currently. I had to suspend teaching and acquire a biometric residence permit and all of that resulted in a lot of personal and financial distress, including excess cost for express application and loss of income. This surely should have been avoided in the first place.
- With the problem / all the problems I had it was extremely unclear to me how to proceed, who to speak to first, how to raise issues. I only later found out that there is a grievance resolution procedure, but could not find these in the handbook, or the terms and conditions.
- Payment dates are extremely late. I received the first payments almost two months after starting to teach, and then subsequently, which meant that I was in money flow difficulties for most of the academic year. Regular employees receive their salaries at the latest at the end of the first month of working!
- I did not get paid / paid only for parts of the induction course that was mandatory for me to attend. It should be paid
- During the strike, I felt insecure about how striking would affect my situation. Most of HR communication was for regular staff members, yet most of these issues, I found out later, did not really apply to my situation. On the one hand we were told, in our T&C, that we can participate in industrial action, yet it was very unclear what consequences this would have for us. This could be communicated better in the future
- For (some of the above) reasons, I would much prefer a fractional employment contract that includes all the rights and duties of a regular employee. I have heard from colleagues from other Universities that they have a fractional contract and I think tutors would be more motivated to deliver high quality teaching if they knew their work was valued as important by their University
These are only some potential points to be raised, and as said before, make your own points in your feedback. Thanks for telling them what you think!