PTA Guidance for Managers

Employment in a teaching related capacity offers excellent career development for our postgraduate students, the chance to build valuable skills and experience, and the opportunity to be employed and paid for their work.

Each college will have appointed PTA Coordinators and staff to support our postgraduate students with their employment, approve their claims for payment, monitor their hours of work, organise induction and training and ensure that any queries or issues are resolved.

More information on the employment of postgraduate students is available in the Teaching Quality Assurance Manual.

A flowchart setting out the contracting process for postgraduate students can be found here: PTA Contracting Process. Further information and frequently asked questions for Managers can be found below. 

The HR team are available to help with any queries relating to the contract of employment or pay, either by email (humanresources@exeter.ac.uk), by phone (01392 723 413 – or ext 3413) or in person at the 3rd floor Northcote House, between 8am and 5pm every weekday except bank holidays.

‌A fair and transparent recruitment and selection process is vital to the University in order to recruit quality PTAs.

The following guidelines are for all staff recruiting to PTA roles:

  1. Circulate details of the PTA opportunities to all eligible postgraduate students so that there is open competition;
  2. The PTA Generic job description should be circulated along with any key information about the work to be undertaken.  All selection decisions should be made using the "skills and competencies" section;
  3. Record your decisions/reasons for not appointing applicants, see the equality and diversity guidelines for panel members;
  4. Consider involving more than one person in selection decisions to minimise accusations of bias and to be seen to be fair – ideally both men and women, see the equality and diversity guidelines for panel members;
  5. Be sure that those involved in the selection decisions have, at minimum, completed the mandatory Recruitment and Selection course via LearnUpon;
  6. Give feedback to unsuccessful applicants if requested.

A flowchart setting out the new processes can be found here PTA Contracting Process.  Further details are set out below:

  • Students will be engaged in accordance with the “Employment of Postgraduate Students: Code of Good Practice” by Colleges, having consideration to the limitation of not exceeding the average of 6 hours per week/180 per year for a full-time student and/or any Tier 4 visa restrictions; 
  • Colleges will be responsible for engaging and agreeing hours with postgraduate students, where the work is regular/pre-scheduled they will complete a PTA Assignment Schedule (HAT form) and forward details to the student and HR (humanresources@exeter.ac.uk) to enable a contract to be issued;
  • HR will contact the student by email to confirm that their contract is being prepared, and to provide employment information and joining documents.
  • Right To Work documents must be provided before a student can commence work at the University. Colleges and HR will work together to undertake Right to Work checks 
  • Once the Right to Work check has been completed, HR will issue the contract of employment and will also provide staff ID details that must be used to log in to the iTrent Employee Self-Service system
  • The contract of employment covers all hours that a student works for their college during the contracting period, and will not need to be reissued if their working pattern changes.
  • If a student undertakes PTA work across different disciplines in a college, the contract will cover all of this work.
  • If a student undertakes PTA work across different colleges, they will receive a separate contract to cover the work they do in each college.

Students assigned ad-hoc temporary work will be engaged on a casual basis via the Claims Payroll.

The University has agreed limits on the hours which its students should work for the University in order to protect their learning and education. (See section 6 of Code of Good Practice on the Employment of Postgraduate Students and the Good Practice Guidelines for Undergraduate Students undertaking paid employment during term-time.)

The total working hours for full time students is 180 per year and no more than 6 hours per week, if you have a visa this may also have other restrictions.

For part-time students see the maximum hours permitted per year in the table below:

PTA student FTE:

1

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

0.5

Study hours per week

37.5

33.75

30

26.25

22.5

18.75

Study hours per year

1650

1485

1320

1155

990

825

Maximum work hours permitted per year

180

345

510

675

840

1005

Study hours and work hours combined

1830

1830

1830

1830

1830

1830

Additionally, for students outside the European Economic Area, the government has set a limit of 20 hours of employment per week for students during term-time: this applies to all work undertaken by the student, not just their employment with the University. For further information on employment of non-UK/EEA students please see the Right to work guidance.

Information for managers of Tier 4 students

Tier 4 visa students/employees - please be aware that these visas carry legal restrictions on the number of hours paid or unpaid work can be undertaken.  This is a maximum of 10 or 20 hours per week (depending on the visa) and cannot be averaged over a longer period.  Please ensure students are not requested to work more than their weekly working limit (this includes additional ad hoc hours, voluntary work and/or any work undertaken for another discipline/College or employer).

Payment arrangements

To comply with tax and employment regulations, it is essential that payment for work (remuneration) is separated from scholarship/bursary payments for maintenance and other learning expenses.

Remuneration must be paid through the payroll system; any bursary/scholarship will continue to be paid through Student Finance (using established procedures).

Where Colleges choose to bundle a bursary/scholarship and remuneration together for marketing purposes, it is essential that documentation issued to the student explains that part of the award represents remuneration for work undertaken as a condition of their award (which will be paid via the Payroll) and that part is a bursary/scholarship (which will be paid via Student Finance). The two elements should be separately identified in College accounts.

The University has been advised by its solicitors that employment arrangements where the student receives a waiver of fees in consideration for working for the College (i.e. they receive no direct remuneration from the University) are not permissible.

Students on employment contracts will be paid at Grade E. Payment is made by recording hours and submitting claims via the iTrent Employee Self-Service system. Once these claims have been approved by a manager they will be paid in the next available monthly payroll.

Claims can also be made for training hours that have been agreed in advance with a manager.

Once the contract has been issued, any additional PTA work can be claimed via the Employee Self-Service system. The employment contract will not need to be amended and HR do not need to be notified.

Managers are asked to be mindful that the employment of a full-time student should not normally exceed 6 hours per week.  Individuals who hold a Tier 4 visa would continue to need to ensure they comply with the working restrictions prescribed in their visas.  

If the student undertakes non-PTA work at the University (e.g. exam invigilation, research assistant, supporting WP and outreach activities), this should be recorded and approved by means of an PTA103 Additional Hours Form and forwarded to payandbenefits@exeter.ac.uk‌ for payment.

At the end of the contract period, HR will review the hours worked and arrange a final payment if necessary to ensure the student has been paid for their guaranteed hours, and also to cover any untaken annual leave.

Monthly payroll deadlines can be found here.

Colleges should make arrangements to notify their students who holds these roles so that students know who to contact if they have any questions.

Postgraduate Teaching Assistant Coordinators

Each discipline will have a coordinator who will coordinate teaching or other employment activities, the necessary induction, training, monitoring and support of the students and will ensure that any problems and issues are resolved promptly.

Postgraduate Teaching Assistant Representatives

All Colleges shall appoint an experienced PTA as a Postgraduate Teaching Assistant Representative, following an open process, including inviting nominations from experienced PTAs. The PTA Representative shall coordinate any concerns arising from PTAs in that discipline and may support the PTA Coordinator in mentoring less experienced PTAs.