One in three colleges employ majority of lecturers on casual contracts – UCU

A freedom of information request from the University and College Union revealed the proportion of staff employed on what it describes as “insecure contracts”

One in three colleges employ a majority of lecturers on casual contracts, the University and College Union has revealed.

The union sent a freedom of information (FoI) request to 226 colleges in the England and revealed that 29% employed more than a half of lecturers on “insecure contracts”.

In a statement, the union said the proportion of colleges employing a majority of their teaching staff on casual contracts has tripled since 2016. The UCU’s head of further education, Andrew Harden, described the findings as “damning”.

Harden said: “None of this is good for staff, but it is also extremely damaging for students as teachers’ working conditions are their learning conditions. We want to see an end to the punitive zero-hours contracts and serious efforts to address the widespread misuse of casual contracts.”

The union also surveyed 789 staff working in colleges, adult education and prison education about working conditions. 69% reported that they earned less than £1,500 a month and over half said they struggled to pay bills.

Ninety-three per cent of those who said they were on a fixed-term contract said they would rather be on a permanent contract and 72% of hourly-paid staff said that they would rather be on a contract with guaranteed hours, even if it meant less flexibility.

The union says the report “exposed the lie that flexible contracts are supported by workers”.

Harden said: “More needs to be done to expose the link between a lack of stability and how that impacts on students’ education. We want to see Ofsted properly examine the levels of casualisation as part of its inspections.”