UWE Bristol offering zero hour contracts at increased pay rate to mark assessments

‘It’s quite scary to think some of these people may not be marking adequately’

In a since deleted listing, The University of the West of England website has advertised zero-hour contracts at ‘double’ pay rate, presumably to mitigate the impact of the marking and assessment boycott (MAB).

The job description lists a salary of £60 per script for a 30-credit module and £40 for a 15-credit module. This pay rate is estimated at roughly £10 more per script than lecturers are currently offered, according to one professor who spoke to The Tab.

Effective since the 20th April, the MAB is part of the ongoing dispute over pay and working conditions between the UCU and UCEA, affecting 145 universities across the country.

Amidst such disruption, students have faced graduating with “pretend” degrees, lacking the actual classification because of outstanding unmarked work.

This latest job advertisement appears to suggest that UWE is trying to limit the number of students affected by the MAB who could graduate with said temporary classifications.

However, the move has been met with fierce criticism by lecturers at UWE who told The Bristol Tab that: “The whole thing is pretty insulting to be honest.

“People being brought in to do the same role as me but getting paid more for it, and who may not have the experience that I do.”

With regards to the impact on students, the lecturer has questioned the quality of the outsourced marking: “I have no idea what experience they’re even asking for so it’s quite scary to think some of these people may not be marking adequately.”

This introduction of temporary labour comes as last week The Tab revealed that Bristol University was offering students £18.85 to mark first and second-year exams to fill the labour shortage caused by the MAB.

Universities have been criticised as “undermining” their degrees by using alternative labour in lieu of students’ usual lecturers if they are participating in the marking boycott. Online, the limited feedback students have been received has been widely shared.

Regarding the criticism of the since-deleted temporary contracts, a spokesperson for UWE has said:

“In light of the marking and assessment boycott, we are recruiting additional qualified staff to mark students’ work. We are fully focused on supporting our students to ensure they are recognised for the hard work they have put in to their studies.

“We are committed to ensuring academic standards and quality are assured and the value of our students’ degrees is maintained.”

Cover image credit via @DanielaGabor

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