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PTA Guidance for Managers

Background FAQs

Frequently asked questions - background to changes

The benefits of the University's contracting arrangements for postgraduate students include:

  • Greater professionalisation of the role of the Postgraduate Teaching Associate, including clear association with the Education and Scholarship academic terms and conditions of employment;
  • Enhances students' future employment opportunities by including employment status on CV’s;
  • A commitment by both parties - in terms of the University to provide work and by the employee to undertake the work that has been agreed;
  • Participation of postgraduate students in induction, probation, training and Performance Development Review procedures (via ePDR) for which payment will be made for participating in these activities;
  • Membership of the university’s pension scheme arrangements “Universities Superannuation Scheme” and other benefits received by employees of the University, including sickness benefits;
  • Ensures that the terms and conditions and benefits are applied equitably with other employees on similar contracting arrangements.

New contracting arrangements for Postgraduate Teaching Associates were launched in September 2018. The aim of these new arrangements were to improve the employment and payment options for our postgraduate students by offering annualised or termly staff contracts or casual work in line with the University’s business rules for engaging workers.

These changes provide simpler and more efficient contracting arrangements, and a contract and payment process that reflects the flexible nature of PTA working patterns. They include:

  • The PTA Assignment Spreadsheet 2021-2022 has replaced the HAT form as the method of recording the hours allocated to a student for teaching, assessment, preparation and training. The spreadsheet should be completed by the PTA Co-ordinator, or person responsible for supporting PTA work, and shared with their college administration team (details below). More detailed guidance can be found here PTA Assignment Spreadsheet Guidance






  • A new Assignment Schedule 2021-2022‌ has been designed for managers to record a full description of the student’s hours of work and training.






  • If the student will undertake ad-hoc temporary work they can be engaged on a casual basis via the Claims Payroll. If further work is offered that is regular and/or pre-scheduled, they will be transferred to a guaranteed hours contract.

  • All students must provide evidence of their Right To Work documents before they can commence employment. If you are meeting with your student before they start work, then please ask for these documents so that you can check them and send them to HR, it will help to speed up the appointment process. HR will conduct checks for any student that has not been able to verify their right to work with you.

  • Once the details of the students work have been added to the PTA Assignment Spreadsheet 2021-2022 and approved by the college, and the right to work check has been completed, HR will issue the contract. Postgraduate students who are engaged for regular/pre-scheduled work will be employed on a guaranteed hours contract of employment. This contract reflects that PTA working patterns can vary, and provides flexibility and security by guaranteeing a minimum number hours of work that will be paid by the end of the contract, even if those hours are not worked.

  • Students will be paid by submitting claims based on the hours they have worked via iTrent, the University’s payroll and Employee Self-Service system. PTA Co-ordinators will be required to approve these claims, and the payment for that work will be made in the next available monthly payroll.

  • If the student undertakes other, non-PTA work they should complete a PTA103 additional hours form.

  • Students will be paid on the first point of Grade E, and will be eligible for the annual salary increment. For further information please see the University Salary scales.
  • Students will continue to be engaged in accordance with the arrangements set out in the “Employment of Postgraduate Students: Code of Good Practice”.   
  • Students will be automatically enrolled in the pension scheme.

  • Hours will be allocated as appropriate for induction, probation, training and performance development review processes (via ePDR).

  • Colleges/Disciplines must advise students of line management arrangements and may wish to allocate activities across more than one manager where appropriate, and should ensure postgraduate students are clear on local arrangements for induction, probation, mandatory training and ePDR processes.  The Doctoral College advise that the line manager for teaching activity and other PTA activity should be appointed from outside the student’s supervisory team. This is to avoid conflict of interest in terms of teaching performance and employment and their academic progress;

  • If a student leaves the academic manager must follow the leaver process to avoid the student being overpaid.

  • If a student leaves their PTA role before the end of the contract, you should follow the leaver process for staff.

  • Students will be employed on a fixed-term contract, and will be associated to the terms and conditions of employment attached to the Education and Scholarship Academic Job Family.
  • Students will be required to demonstrate their Right To Work before commencing any work at the University. 
  • Once the work is approved by the college, HR will issue a guaranteed hours contract. The contract does not provide a full description of the hours worked as these may vary, but it guarantees a minimum number hours of work that will be paid for the contract, even if those hours are not worked.
  • Students scheduled to undertake ad-hoc temporary work will be engaged on a casual basis. If further work is offered that is regular and/or pre-scheduled, they will be transferred to a guaranteed hours contract.
  • Students will be appointed on Grade E, point 23. Students will be eligible for the annual salary increment. For further information please see the University Salary scales.
  • Students are permitted to undertake other casual assignments at the University (e.g. exam invigilation, research assistant, supporting WP and outreach activities).  They are asked to be mindful of the recommended maximum 180 hours annually that students engaged in postgraduate study are permitted to work.  Additional hours for non-PTA work can be claimed using the PTA103 Additional Hours form;