Challenging Lean Financial Management: An Alternative Financial Strategy for UoN.

For years, the University of Nottingham (UoN) has prided itself for its low debt levels and low cash reserves as a sign of highly efficient financial management. Yet, when the pandemic hit in March 2020 this lean financial management strategy unravelled. In order not to break the conditions of its Revolving Credit Facility (RCF), the University had to adopt drastic measures. It cut expenses by 15 per cent across the board followed by a Voluntary Redundancy scheme of unprecedented proportions. More than 400 members of staff left the institution. This has meant that workloads for remaining staff have skyrocketed and morale is extremely low.

There has to be a better way and there is.

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Victory for the Anti-Casualisation Campaign: the new GTA contracts

On March 1st 2021, the University of Nottingham’s People & HR Committee voted to approve a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) model for hiring postgraduate researchers (PGRs) to teach, to begin in the 2021/22 academic year. These roles will be exclusively offered to PGRs, and are intended to replace the Teaching Affiliate roles that previously existed, involving the preparation and delivery of seminars; provision of student contact hours; and marking responsibilities. Teaching Affiliate roles were hourly-paid and subcontracted to UniTemps, the University’s outsourced temporary engagement agency, offering none of the employment rights that come with having employee status with the University. While still hourly-paid, the new GTA contracts will be fixed-hours, in-house contracts of employment with the University; will grant employee status to PGRs who teach; and will secure pay and employment rights accordingly. This should be seen as a massive win in the fight against casualisation in higher education.

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