The Student investigates the university’s failure to pay or give contracts to ECA postgraduate tutors

Image: Editors @ The Student

Eight weeks into the semester and Edinburgh College of Art PhD tutors have yet to receive their contracts, or payment for work undertaken so far, The Student has been informed. 

On 14th October, pre-honours tutors received an email stating that due to the implementation of a new HR system, no new contracts would be processed. As of 11th November, they are still working without a contract and without any indication of how, or if,  they will be compensated.  

PhD students employed by the University of Edinburgh sign ‘Student Experience Contracts’, which are tied to their matriculation status and automatically terminate at the end of a tutor’s period of study. 

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Tutors and teaching staff at the Edinburgh College of Art have been calling for provisional contracts to be issued while tutors await their new contracts, as well as greater clarity over when payments will come. 

According to a group of ECA postgraduate tutors, however, their requests “have been largely ignored by the university administration.”

At present, pre-honours tutors have continued their teaching. 

Speaking to The Student, they stated: “we do not want our fight with the university to negatively affect our students who have already been put under tremendous strain by the global pandemic and the failures by the university to properly prepare for the challenges of distanced teaching.” 

Tutors have also expressed their concerns around being able to meet their rent and bills payments, given the delay in payment and the financial pressures caused by Covid-19.

The email sent on 14th October, and published here by The Student, has since been removed from the university system. 

A few saved copies exist, one of which was obtained by The Student. As claimed by this email, the first payment that tutors are likely to receive is on 28th November, ten weeks into the semester. 

Speaking to The Student, a spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said: “our top priority is to make sure we pay our staff accurately and on time. We are aware of an isolated issue surrounding payment of a small number of staff in ECA. We have contacted these staff directly and are working to address these issues promptly.”

The Sabbatical Officers of Edinburgh University Students’ Association stated: “we are extremely disappointed to hear this account. It is unacceptable for PhD students to have any uncertainty over their employment contracts or for pay to have been delayed, especially when they are working so hard to deliver online teaching this semester. We would urge the university to take steps to rectify this situation as soon as possible, and for the students who have been negatively impacted to get in touch with us, so we can help resolve this situation for them.”

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