It could deal with eight different jobs a week? Alice did last year trying to make ends meet.
Is not the life style that you imagine for a highly educated associate professor.
Insecure work is not something normally associated with the world of the academy.
But all this Alice, 31 years old, has ever known.
“It is exhausting. You do not have any security. And that you always have to be scouting for work for the next semester or academic year.
“Financially, it is impossible. In terms of the future, friends have houses, mortgages, cars. I do not have savings, living in debt and not the impact on your mental health. I have suffered from anxiety and depression of my situation at work.”
We have not used his real name, because Alice fears that I might lose what few hours of work you have.
You are currently in a contract with a four hour guarantee of teaching a week in term time at a university in the south of England. She receives a payment of Â£40 per hour, which includes preparation and marking.
“I’m usually doing many more hours on top of that, without pay, to do all the work. If you are teaching a new module, that leaves less than the minimum wage, because of all the extra hours required to do the role, since the reading time for the link with the students. I would say that is poverty wages.”
Alice has just finished her Phd, teaching along the way. Last year she found herself going back and forth between the three institutions of higher education, five to six hours in each one. He also worked in a bar and is taught in the schools at the top of your payment.
Alice says that, in his department, there are more people being paid for the hours that are not full-time staff – and they are also doing most of the teaching. ‘Work safe’
“It is ridiculous, given the level of knowledge and experience I have. I think that many of the full-time employees are of shame, as we are a bit like a ghost out of the labor force that come in a couple of hours, to do the teaching and leave. I also work in a cinema at the time is a safer way of working for me,” she says.
Five other academics, in different parts of the country, including one of the Russell Group of universities, have similar stories of insecurity work.
One of them, who now succeeded in obtaining an indefinite contract, spoke of how he was forced to take occasional naps in his car, between the teaching and the part-time job cleaning the streets.
So how much of the teaching in our universities is delivered by teachers who are paid by the hour or on the insecurity of the contracts?
Jonathan White, University and College Union (UCU) policy, bargaining and negotiations official, said: “We have argued for years that a lot of the teaching in universities is, in fact, made by the people in precarious employment, struggling to reach the end of the month, and the universities have been trying to sweep under the carpet”.
He sent a freedom of information request to 135 higher education institutions last year, looking for figures on the amount of teaching delivered by hourly paid staff. More than half either do not or could not disclose any information; others, always partial, of the information, including the Alice of the university.
Only 38 universities provided usable material in the 2015/16 academic year, with a lot of warnings regarding its accuracy. In other words, it is not possible to draw clear conclusions. But it did throw up some interesting examples.
University Of The University Of Birmingham
For example, the University of Derby reported a little over a quarter of his teaching was done hourly-paid staff. So did the College of the University of Birmingham.
According to Mr. White, there is not enough information to show the problem is much bigger than universities want to admit.
“What we are trying to do is a rough approximation of the scale,” he says.
“What we have found is in general terms what we thought we was going to find. There are tens of thousands of people to the education of hundreds of thousands of hours of education that are being paid by the hour.”
University employers say that the report is erroneous and misleading, along with all the other research of the UCU has done.
Your association, scholarship award, believes casual staff do a very small amount of teaching.
“The quality of many degree programmes in higher education institutions today is often enhanced by the contribution of skilled professionals from outside the sector, contributing specialist teaching on specific courses,” he said in a statement.
“Such input is highly valued by the students and it is often essential to the accreditation program. Hourly paid teaching and mentoring also provide important opportunities for the development of postgraduate courses, especially for those interested in a future career in the sector.”
The Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) is responsible for the publication of official data. It is said that the data, as currently collected, do not give a clear answer about the level of precarious employment in the academic sector.
“We know that around a third of the academic staff, around 70,000 people, are on fixed-term contracts. We don’t know much detail below. For example, how they feel, or how many hours you do or anything of that level of data. It’s just that it’s not obvious,” says Hesa’s chief executive, Paul Clark.
Hesa, he says, is with the hope of beginning to publish a more detailed analysis on employment in a year or so. “Much more freedom”
For universities, short-term contracts have become more important than it used to be.
Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, an independent think tank, says: “Universities look and feel a little more like running a business than they used to.
“One thing that has changed, for example, is that students have much more freedom on which university you attend, and universities are now free to recruit as many students as they like.
“It’s a volatile situation. There is uncertainty about Brexit, how many international students there will be part time and the numbers have been reduced by more than half.
“The other thing is that want to expand popular courses and off less popular. And if you have staff on more flexible contracts these are easier things to do.”
Another reason, he says, is its focus on academic research that carries more prestige and large research contracts to universities. But it can mean less time for teaching so that universities are left with holes in their schedule to fill.
“I am concerned that we have an imbalance, that we have too many of the short-term, temporary contracts. If you are an ambitious academic, you want the security of a full-time position, that allows you to settle,” Mr. Hillman says.
“Not everyone wants a full-time job, of course. But it is absolutely the right time to talk about these things, having this debate. If we want happy students, and the success of the universities want happy staff.”
Alice loves teaching and continues to pursue his dream of an academic career, for now.
“I’m stuck in this limbo position. It is ridiculous, given the level of knowledge and experience I have.
“I’m applying for full time jobs now. If I don’t have anything in September, I’m going to have to evaluate if I can continue. I just don’t want to oppress me already. “