According to UCU, too many lecturers are struggling on casual contracts.
The University and College Union surveyed over 2500 of its members regarding the issue, and 42% of those on casual contracts said they struggle with paying household bills. A further 35% had issues paying rent and mortgage and 21% of people surveyed found paying for food problematic.
However a body of university employers have stated this study may be flawed, as not all those surveyed would necessarily count as being on casual hours.
Of those surveyed, around 71% were from the higher education sector, with the rest on casual contracts within further education, with around a quarter saying they were on zero hour contracts. These included everyone from lecturers, to researchers, to postgraduate teachers.
The survey found that overall, 47% of those who took part worked up to 30 hours a week with 33% earning less than £1000 each month. Furthermore, one in ten could not say how many hours they worked per week because their employment was so irregular.
In addition to this, it was found that lots of people on zero hour contracts worked long hours because they were concerned about when their next opportunity to earn would come along, and some workers also said that their hours were being cut to make room for cheaper staff.
The Association of Colleges (AoC) said further education had always needed a flexible workforce and employed people on different types of contracts according to need.
The University and Colleges Employers Association, however, made a statement disagreeing with the UCU’s branding of fixed-term contracts as ‘casual’, saying that fixed term contracts were mostly used for researchers where projects were expected to last only three or four years and that numbers of permanent contracts have actually increased in recent years.