One Year On: Are Conditions Getting Worse for GTAs?

(Credit: Sita Balani)

GTAs accuse King’s of making them “work for free” with no proper teacher training.

Last year Roar! exposed the College for exploiting GTAs. One year on and GTAs believe the College is still not taking them seriously – and things may be getting worse.

King’s College London will abandon the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice in Higher Education (PGCAP) next year. This is the formal teaching qualification offered by universities across the UK. The College has decided that it is “too resource intensive”, even though many departments rely on GTAs for first year teaching.

The College claimed the PGCAP was available on their website when postgraduates applied for their roles, but postgraduates were later told that it had been scrapped. After extensive GTA lobbying it was brought back – for only 25 teachers. The PGCAP will not be available at all for the next year.

(Credit: Sita Balani)

Instead, GTAs are now given a one-day training course called Preparing to Teach. The same course is given to both lab demonstrators and seminar leaders, making it “very vague.”

One postgraduate described it as “an example of how not to teach.”
Another said it was “so wishy-washy that I can’t remember anything of what I was actually taught.”

For many GTAs this is further proof of the College undervaluing their work. One teacher said, “We are all under pressure, we actually can’t afford to work for free like this.”

(Credit: Sita Balani)

(Credit: Sita Balani)

The College held four focus groups in 2015, and came up with a set of new proposals to tackle the problem.

The proposals included creating a forum to help GTAs communicate across the university, stricter enforcement of the 6-hour teaching limit, and more consistent pay structures.

King’s claims that the proposals “are in line with other similar London universities” but GTAs have told Roar! that “in some departments the conditions are going to get worse.” Another GTA said that “the proposal on the table still does not reflect the hours that we spend working.”

This is because the pay is currently worked out on a departmental basis – so well paid departments like Geography and Film Studies will see huge cuts. However, the College claims that they will “ensure that no existing GTA would lose out financially.”

Many teachers believe that their working conditions have knock-on effects for undergraduates. Some teachers are forced to resort to basic marking templates while others are not given any training on LGBT or BME issues.

One GTA said “It makes you wonder where all our fees are going.”

The campaign group “Fair Pay for GTAs” has set up a petition with more information.

(Credit: Sita Balani)

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