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Third of postgraduate students who teach earn 'less than the minimum wage'

Thursday 28 February 2013 Higher Education

Research into the experience of postgraduate students who teach in universities released today by NUS, has revealed that when their real working hours are considered, almost a third received a ‘real wage’ lower than the National Minimum wage.

The report, ‘Postgraduates Who Teach’, surveyed nearly 1500 postgraduate teachers about their working conditions, pay and motivations. The average hourly pay for postgraduates who teach is £19.95 but on average they are working twice as many hours per week as they are paid for and the average ‘real hourly wage’ is £10.39.

Other concerning findings from the survey were that a third (31%) received no contract of employment and one in five have received no formal training for their teaching role.

Researchers were concerned to find that for a small percentage (5%) teaching was a required part of their study or that their funding was contingent on teaching, regardless of their desire or aptitude for teaching.

Rachel Wenstone, NUS Vice-President (Higher Education), said:

“This report reveals that much of the hard work of postgraduates is woefully undervalued and underpaid by their institutions. There are far too many cases of postgraduates working long hours without the training and support they need, and being paid for only a small portion of their work.

“If a temp in an office or a labourer on a building site were working ten hour shifts but only getting paid for five, we’d call it exploitation. Unpaid or underpaid labour is unfair and exploitative and we must work with the sector to stamp it out.”

Download PGs who teach

Download the report here