If you're not already aware, the university has recently announced that, due to the financial challenges caused by COVID-19, they will not be recruiting Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) in the year ahead.
This is something which will have a significant impact on our Postgrad Reseach community and to all Essex students, whether undergraduate, postgraduate taught or postgraduate research, who will be negatively impacted by cuts to GTAs/GLAs,
We believe that more should be done to protect this community - if you haven't already, please sign the petition and please take a moment to read the following message from the campaign team:
As a collective, the PhD students and GTAs at the University of Essex, bring attention to the undergraduate community thecampaign to prevent GTA (Graduate Teaching Assistant) job cuts at the University of Essex, and to ask you for your help in supporting our petition to keep Graduate Teaching Assistant Positions in place for the next academic year.
The university administration as led by the Vice Chancellor has announced that planning for department budgets for the next academic year should proceed as though there will be no temporary and casualized working positions, which includes all fixed-term lecturers and GTAs. For us, this would mean first the loss of (already underpaid) jobs that are fundamental for making our ends meet (paying tuition fees, rent, basic living expenses). Some of us would be forced to leave their PhD before completing it, while others would have to start it again in other universities or even countries. Moreover, it would mean the loss of jobs that are essential for our long-term skill development and careers in an already competitive field.
For Essex students more widely, this course of action will necessitate a reduction in the range of courses between which they are currently allowed to choose and a contraction in office hours. Moreover, as a consequence of the announced cuts, permanent faculty members would be asked to take on (for the very same pay) an unbearably higher teaching and administrative load – in other words, students would be regularly taught by chronically overworked lecturers.
While the University claims it cannot make a decision at this point in time, positive decisions have already been reached at the Universities of Sheffield, York and Cambridge to protect GTA jobs. While the ongoing pandemic does put Higher Education institutions under serious financial stress, it is clear that better and fairer alternatives to the currently proposed course of action exist. The financial precarity which PhD students live under means that holding off on making a decision places many students under unnecessary stress. This academic year over 500 fixed-term GTA contracts were in place, representing substantial job losses in the PhD community and indeed in the wider community were these cuts to go ahead for the next academic year.
Thus far we have written an Open Letter to the University and several petitions have been launched. The University has at this point in time failed to directly respond to us and our concerns as raised in the open letter and petitions.
We are maintaining everything on our website.
You may have seen the coverage of our campaign in the Colchester Gazette,Tribune Magazine,LRB,Jacobin Magazine and WONKHE.
We hope that you share our concerns about these proposed job cuts and indeed about the overall quality of teaching at the University of Essex. Thank you in advance for your support, we are doing our best to continue being your GTAs in the forthcoming years.
PGR Campaign - No Cuts to Essex GTA/GLA Jobs
PhD Students, PGR Reps & GTAs