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Leeds University Union has adopted two policies on postgraduate concerns.
The first is on taught postgraduate fees; the second is on postgraduates who teach.
1. Should the Union lobby the University around the issue of Taught Post-Graduate (PGT) fees?
We want the Union to work with the University to get information on:
- The extent to which Undergraduate courses are currently subsidising PGT courses.
- Clarity on the process the University is undertaking over setting PGT fees for the future, with an outlined timeline to measure impact on both current and future students.
- Where the impact of cuts to PGT funding and increases are likely to fall.
- Will there continue to be variable PGT fees?
We want the Union to lobby the University to:
- Clarify to all part-time PGT students the amount they have to pay each year.
- Lobby the University to provide better financial support for PGT students (e.g. bursaries and loans) & to advertise all available support.
- To publish the process of setting PGT fees and the final fee in an accessible place.
- Base both future and current PGT fees on the cost to deliver, not on prestige.
- Provide enhanced career support for PGT students.
2. Should the Union work to ensure that Post-graduate Students are paid fairly for their teaching?
Postgraduate students are increasingly taking on teaching work whilst working on their PhD. This is, to an extent, beneficial to PhD students, providing them with opportunities for teaching experience.
However, some departments have recently cut wages in half through removing payment for preparation. It is now 'included' in the rate of pay. This is detrimental not only to the PhD student - where preparatory work is not accounted for - but to students thereof, who are affected from the reduced quantity and quality of preparation time. It is important to understand the changing conditions of PG teaching, as it effects student experience throughout.
Equally, the extent to which the university relies upon the underpaid work of postgraduates is likely to reflect the unsustainable nature of the contemporary university, where increasing pressure on academic staff is filtered down to PG's who consequently take up the slack.
1. Conduct a university wide survey to assess the teaching conditions of post-graduate students.
Questions to be included such as: Are you required to do TA'ing or demonstrating? What level do you teach (undergrad, masters?) What is your rate of pay? Do you (and have you ever) get paid preparation time? How many hours do you TA or demonstrate? Have you ever done 'informal' (off the books) work?
2. Campaign for 2 hours paid preparation time for each 1 hour TAing or demonstrating.