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Postgraduate employment: good practice

Thousands of postgraduates are employed in higher education, usually in teaching roles. It is important that they are treated in the same way as other employees and are fully supported as members of staff.

Postgraduate researcher manifesto

Free UCU membership UCU has launched a manifesto which calls for universities to end the exploitation of PGRs.

The manifesto argues that universities must give postgraduate researchers (PGRs) the same protections as university staff, with the terms and conditions that are afforded to colleagues on employment contracts, including sick leave and parental leave. Although PGRs produce high-quality research that furthers their university's research outputs yet they do not get these same rights or pay as other staff because they are classified as students.

PGRs who deliver teaching, often known as graduate teaching assistants, must be put on an employment contract, the manifesto says, and these contracts should not be zero hours and must include a job description, accurately contracted hours, rates and regularity of pay.  Access to a pension scheme must be offered.

Postgraduate researchers as staff: manfesto 2021 [773kb]


Postgraduate Employment Charter

UCU, in conjunction with the National Postgraduate Committee (NPC) and the National Union of Students (NUS), also developed the Postgraduate Employment Charter which calls for universities to recognise their role as employers and commit to the requirements laid out in the charter.

Read more about the charter here.

The charter is available to download below, alongside information for GTAs on your rights at work, as well as information for postgrads on why UCU is the union for you.