Controversy over latest unpaid researcher advert

2 August 2012 | last updated: 11 December 2015

The Anna Freud Centre (AFC) and the University College London (UCL) were under fire this morning after it emerged that AFC is advertising for an unpaid research assistant post in UCL's Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology.

The controversy comes just a month after the University of Birmingham was forced to withdraw an advertisement for an unpaid 'honorary research assistant' following a storm of criticism. You can read more on that story here.
 
The AFC advert clearly states the six month post will be unpaid. The minimum pay for a research assistant post at UCL is £25,251 plus around another £2,500 in London weighting. Therefore anyone taking on the post would sacrifice at least £14,000 in pay. A copy of the full advert can be seen here.
 
UCU said unpaid posts undermined the principles of equal pay, exploited people able to work for free and discriminated against those who simply cannot afford to.
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Failing to pay researchers undermines the principles of equal pay and is discriminatory and exploitative. The higher education sector already suffers from huge levels of casualisation, but attempting to get researchers to work for free represents a new low.
 
'We have seen the damage unpaid posts, sold as an opportunity for people to get ahead, have done in other sectors. Universities should be striving for excellence, not seeking to exploit those who can afford to work for nothing as free labour.'

UPDATE: Anna Freud Centre Statement regarding the recently advertised ERIC-D Pilot Study internships (2/8/12)

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