National Union of Students


Press Release   •   Feb 28, 2013 09:30 GMT

Research into the experience of postgraduate students who teach in universities released today by the National Union of Students, 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.”

NUS (National Union of Students) is a voluntary membership organisation which makes a real difference to the lives of students and its member students' unions.

We are a confederation of 600 students' unions, amounting to more than 95 per cent of all higher and further education unions in the UK. Through our member students' unions, we represent the interests of more than seven million students.