FAQs - Background

In 2018 the University implemented new contracting arrangements for postgraduate students employed as PTAs. There are many benefits to the new contracting arrangements including:

  • Greater professionalisation of the role of the Postgraduate Teaching Assistant, 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 Assistants were launched in September 2018 as a 12 month pilot. 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.

Following a review of this pilot, and feedback that has been shared from colleagues, the University is making further changes and extending the pilot for the academic year 2019/2020. The aim of these changes is to provide simpler and more efficient contracting arrangements, and a contract and payment process that reflects the flexible nature of PTA working patterns. The changes that will take place in 2019/2020 include:

  • Students will receive a PTA Assignment Schedule (HAT form) from their college with a full description of their hours worked and hours training.
  • Once the form is agreed, 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 by the end of the contract, even if those hours are not worked.
  • Students scheduled to undertake ad-hoc work of less than 10 hours will be engaged on a casual basis. If further work is offered and the total hours exceeds 10 hours, they will be transferred to a guaranteed hours contract.
  • 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 payrolll
  • Students who worked on a contract for at least one term in 2018/19 and who are re-engaged in 2019/20 will be paid on the second point on Grade E. Other PTAs will be paid on the first point of Grade E. For further information please see the University Salary scales.

In addition to these changes, the following arrangements will continue to apply:

  • Students will continue to be engaged in accordance with the arrangements set out in the “Employment of Postgraduate Students: Code of Good Practice”.   
  • Right To Work documents must be provided before commencing work at the University. 
  • A pre-medical assessment form will be used to assess the need for any reasonable adjustments (as with other employees);
  • 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) ;
  • Students are permitted to undertake other casual assignments at the University (e.g. exam invigilation, research assistant, supporting WP and outreach activities).  Students are asked to be mindful of the 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;
  • Students will need to give notice and resign if they wish to be released from work commitments.

No, Early Career Researchers are already employed full-time on contracts of employment.