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What's the script with teaching jobs at Oxbridge colleges paying crap money?

(34 Posts)
LikeDylanInTheMovies Sun 22-May-16 01:43:17

Like this one

Exeter college.

There have been a few kicking about. Always very few hours and always paying about 5k a year.

Who is willing/able to uproot their life to one of the UK's most expensive cities? Who actually takes them or even applies for them? Or am I missing something obvious?

HarrietSchulenberg Sun 22-May-16 01:48:02

I've not got experience of academic roles, but I've worked for a household name national media company that paid below the rate of its commercial rivals because it knew it would attract applicants on its name alone.
It certainly did my CV no harm.

Just5minswithDacre Sun 22-May-16 01:49:21

Aimed at trailing spouses? Either that or people literally pay for the kudos.

OpheliasWeepingWillow Sun 22-May-16 01:53:10

But it's not for a year. It's part time work for three months

AnnieOnnieMouse Sun 22-May-16 01:54:59

People either doing it for the kudos on the way up, or to cover some costs while doing further studies, eg PhD, or part time in a couple of Unis - friend of mine has small posts in 2 different universities, tops up the income, along with book royalties, speakers fees, etc.

FishWithABicycle Sun 22-May-16 04:47:05

Oxford is full of post-docs who haven't secured a proper position yet who hoover up these kinds of jobs while continuing their own research unpaid. Eventually they have enough of a publishing record that they can get a proper academic job, but in the meantime they are either supported by a life partner or continue to live at a student-level of expenditure (room in a shared house and hardly any money for food) which can be managed on a tiny income.

mummytime Sun 22-May-16 04:57:03

That is not a full job! As people say it's a bit of top up work for a Post Doc. Most people I knew who applied for them were doing a post doc (or occasionally still doing their doctorate, like a friend of mine). It's not a proper "job".

If you want to see Oxford real rates of pay you need to look at proper jobs, which also often come with accommodation or an allowance, meals in college etc.

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Sun 22-May-16 09:26:28

I agree with the others, but I do think increasingly there is an issue here anyway. At all universities, a lot of teaching is done by PhD students and postdocs who are paid very little. You could argue it would be better to centralise a bit, and advertise a single (decently paid) teaching job instead of five or six of these. I'm not sure it's a good idea to keep postdocs who aren't getting longer-term contracts hanging on in suspense, wondering if they'll make it, with this sort of thing. I'm in this position, btw, so not being snobby.

It is also not likely anyone lives in Oxbridge, in a room in a shared house, on a 'tiny' income. You could get a two bedroom house in some places for the money you pay for a room in a shared house in either city.

That said, the chances of someone 'uprooting' to take these jobs is quite low, because they generally go to people already familiar with the teaching system (ie., people who have already gone through Oxbridge). How good an idea that is, I am not sure.

hayita Sun 22-May-16 11:09:46

People either doing it for the kudos on the way up, or to cover some costs while doing further studies, eg PhD, or part time in a couple of Unis.

To get the Oxbridge posts you would need to have a PhD or be close to competing one. You wouldn't get the job with just an undergraduate or masters degree. Such jobs also don't carry kudos in the academic world.

As pp said, people combine several such posts to get an income of 25k or so per year, while looking for a post-doc or long-term teaching post. There is also a huge market of people finishing PhDs whose funding has pretty much run out: for these people a couple of months part-time teaching is ideal.

Agree that it's very rare for such posts to be given to people who aren't already in Oxbridge.

You could argue it would be better to centralise a bit, and advertise a single (decently paid) teaching job instead of five or six of these.

Well, this is what many university departments do. Oxbridge is special in its need for college teaching, a few hours per week per subject, repeated over 30 odd colleges. At many other universities there would be instead be a full-time job combining the hours for any given subject. It does sometimes happen that Oxbridge colleges get together to offer a full-time job spread over 4 or 5 colleges and I agree it would be good if they did this more. (It's very hard to make such agreements with other colleges though!)

In general the post-doc system is not set up in favour of the post-docs - in my field we will get hundreds of applications for any permanent position from all around the world and the chance of getting a permanent position is low, even for graduates from the very top universities. I advise PhD students and post-docs to be realistic about their chances, have a backup plan and not to keep waiting for a job that may never happen.

LikeDylanInTheMovies Sun 22-May-16 11:31:16

Thanks everyone....

Robins that's what I don't understand, there'll be at least a few of these knocking around. Centralising and offering a proper job would seem to make more sense.

hayita Sun 22-May-16 11:41:39

But colleges are run separately. So you have to make an agreement between colleges about who pays what, where will the tutorials be taught, which topics will the person cover etc etc. This isn't always easy. For example, for maths one college might need somebody to cover the maths physics courses while another might need statistics instead. A third college might need statistics teaching this year, but knows they won't need it next year (as a fellow then comes back after sabbatical) so they wouldn't be willing to join in for a 1+ year post. Etc etc.

grimupnorthLondon Sun 22-May-16 11:54:37

Lots of people doing this long-term are in 'particular situations'. One friend graduated from Oxford with dh in the 80s, stayed for his PhD and bought a flat back then when it was affordable. He's been a college tutor ever since and also runs college choir, plays the organ.

Never wanted the stress of a research-active position (although he would have been more than capable) and given the politics of it these days I can't say I blame him. Although he is pretty Oxford-institutionalised and would need some kind of assistance if ever released into the wider community.....

mummytime Sun 22-May-16 12:01:41

But it is partly part of the Oxbridge difference. That on top of lectures and department wide teaching, you also receive 1:1, 1:2 or 1:3 tutorials in college. In this intense environment you can receive real coaching.
Its pretty hard to afford, and the only other place I've come across something similar is William's College in the US, where they can only do it for some options (rather than every subject), and they say the true cost of their degrees is $80,000+ which they subsidise for everyone to $50,000 (and offer scholarships etc on top).
If you read that ad it says it is £4,500 ish and other benefits, those benefits may be a room in college and will certainly include some meals.

bettyblueeyes83 Sun 22-May-16 12:23:59

I did three of these (after undergrad and postgrad in Oxbridge) and then got the hell out to London! I do think it's shocking how poorly paid they are compared both to fixed-term teaching-only positions other universities and to the salaries of full Fellows - and no, you won't get free accommodation although you might get some dining rights. Sometimes if colleges don't have enough hours to offer a decent stipend alone, they will join up - one of my positions was joint between two colleges. And other times lecturers will take on two or three of these, which vary in hours and therefore stipend between £4K-ish and £20k-ish. But some colleges insist (I think illegally?) when you accept their £12k 'part-time' post that you promise not to teach for any other colleges.

Many of them employ term-time only or for 9 months, so you're then looking for summer schools etc to support yourself at a time when you desperately need to catch up on research/writing after a hectic year of teaching (8 hours is much more work than it sounds). I do think they are deeply exploitative - but of course the resources, tutorial/small-group teaching, lack of bureaucracy etc are not to be found elsewhere!

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Sun 22-May-16 12:24:47

hayita - yes, I know that's what many universities do. That's why I can't help feeling it ought to be possible! Oxbridge do centralise teaching to some extent, and it wouldn't be beyond the wit of intelligent people to do a bit more, I think. To my knowledge, colleges usually have ad hoc - but quite stable - agreements about how they farm out teaching to colleagues, and it wouldn't be hard to formalise these.

grim - being a permanently employed college tutor is a much more stable and well-paid position.

grimupnorthLondon Sun 22-May-16 12:32:03

Robins, agreed it is stable but the pay is still far far lower than central/departmental posts.

But of course the casualisation of academic positions everywhere is a terrible trend. It benefits nobody - at our non-Oxbridge department we have to give some undergraduate teaching to the postgrads with studentships even if it's not their specialist area. Cue loads of (justified) complaints from undergrads while post-docs with the right specialism are begging for teaching hours.

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Sun 22-May-16 13:10:10

I know the pay's lower - and yes, I agree.

Though, surely you should be giving postgrads teaching experience? I'd be pretty unimpressed with a university that didn't find its PhD students at least some teaching - even if not in their specialist area - because you know they need the experience. When I taught during my PhD I was well trained (actually, the training was much more extensive than that offered to me in my subsequent postdoc teaching job!).

hayita Sun 22-May-16 13:16:39

The pay is still far far lower than central/departmental posts.

Not necessarily (at least in STEM fields). A college post with benefits can easily pay you in real terms senior lecturer rates, or higher if you take on college responsibilities such as senior tutor.

IMO it is considerably less stressful to have a permanent college teaching post at L/SL pay, and be exempt from research, grant writing, REF etc, than to have a departmental post where you are under pressure from all directions (teaching, research, admin etc). In that sense I think the college posts can be pretty appealing, although of course the top tier of academics wouldn't be interested.

Robin it really isn't always easy to formalise such agreements. I tried very hard to do so for one agreement years ago, others have tried since, and even now the arrangement hasn't been formalised due to objections from all colleges concerned.

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Sun 22-May-16 13:24:37

hay - I'm sorry, I didn't mean to criticise you personally.

I am aware there's a lot of resistance from colleges. But I think that is slightly different from actual logistical difficulties? Certainly in some subjects, I've come across the situation where ex-supervisors or mentors will know precisely where their postdoc might look for these positions, and exactly how and when they'll likely come up. So the knowledge is there - it's just the colleges don't like the idea they'd always be held to maintaining that knowledge.

I do think this is an Oxbridge-type issue. For example, ten years ago, a certain issue of marking exams was college-based, and apparently it was utterly impossible for it to be done centrally. Many attempts had been made to standardise across colleges, and all had failed.

It is now done centrally. So, these things can be done.

LikeDylanInTheMovies Mon 23-May-16 17:06:41

That said, I've noticed that a lot of teaching fellow jobs at other universities are advertised as part time hours for ten months september-july (roughly 22 hrs pw) but you're expected to work full time hours in term time, but effectively aren't being paid for the Christmas or Easter breaks, taking your annual pay down to about 17k. Sliipery fuckers.

I don't know what's more depressing, the exploitative nature of these contracts or the fact I can't get one.

Moan over.

FoggyBottom Mon 23-May-16 18:02:59

but effectively aren't being paid for the Christmas or Easter breaks

The thinking is, that, as you're not contracted to do research, Easter/Christmas are pretty much free time. Unless it's filled with marking.

BoboChic Mon 23-May-16 18:07:44

It's a very PT job with very PT pay. It's the kind of job that attracts people who can work for the joy of teaching clever students in a lovely environment and have other revenue streams to pay the bills.

LikeDylanInTheMovies Mon 23-May-16 18:14:33

Yeah Foggy. I understand the thinking. People who I know have had them seem to have been flat out during the holidays writing lectures, doing course admin etc.

EssentialHummus Mon 23-May-16 18:16:01

Oxford is full of post-docs who haven't secured a proper position yet who hoover up these kinds of jobs while continuing their own research unpaid.

This was my first thought too - a friend has just finished her D.Phil, and has one role like this working with 1st years, combined with an admin role at a specialist center, organising events for them (£12k pro rata), combined with a post-doc in other country (!) that doesn't mind that she isn't there in person. She lives in a house-share locally.

RobinsAreTerritorialFuckers Mon 23-May-16 18:19:47

It's the kind of job that attracts people who can work for the joy of teaching clever students in a lovely environment and have other revenue streams to pay the bills.

I don't think that is true any more.

Leaving aside Oxbridge - where they won't appoint someone unless they think that person looks good - I know plenty of people who have not even been shortlisted for temporary teaching jobs because they were not sufficiently starry researchers. And this isn't just at universities with very high reputations for research.

Freelance teaching at Oxbridge probably does still attract people who just fancy a bit of gentle work and know the right person to ask. But actual short-term posts, no, I don't think so!

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