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University of Northumbria blasted for unpaid teaching demand on postgraduate students

22 June 2016 | last updated: 24 June 2016

Plans requiring postgraduate students at the University of Northumbria to teach as a condition of their research stipend have been condemned as "grossly exploitative" by UCU.

The union was responding to new terms and conditions for research studentships issued by the university. These state that PhD students in receipt of a £14,296 stipend to support their studies will be expected to teach up to 180 hours per year without additional payment.

UCU said that this practice directly contradicts advice from both the research councils and the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), and amounts to forced unpaid labour. The union has called on the university to withdraw its "regressive" policy and work with unions to negotiate new terms and conditions for research students.

UCU regional official, Iain Owens, said: 'The university's regressive proposal flies in the face of guidance from research councils and quality bodies. Expecting research students to deliver over five weeks' worth of teaching, on top of their full-time research practice for no extra reward, is grossly exploitative and amounts to forced unpaid labour.

'The university urgently needs to withdraw its proposal and sit down with UCU to negotiate terms and conditions which ensure students are fairly paid for their work.'

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