supporting phd students who teach


supporting phd students who teach

Associate tutors (ATs), graduate teaching assistants, and other casual members of teaching staff are bundled into the term ATs. ATs are employees of UEA often on part-time and more casualised teaching or research contracts. We're focusing on the PhD students who take up these contracts as we represent them as members of the student union.

There are 1572 (as of 2019) PGRs at UEA and 799 (51%) of these are had an AT contract in 2018-19. This percentage increases when we remove the PGRs not eligible to teach due to their probation period. 

Due to Covid-19 UEA took the decision to cut the AT budget by 55% (from £3.1mil to £1.4 mil) as a money saving initiative. Many PGR students rely on this work to survive during a busy and stressful period of their life. AT work fits in with employment regulations set by UEA on PhD students (6 hours per week), and is often aligned with their field of research. AT opportunities offer vital experience for PhD students who want to continue their careers in academia. While we understand the need to save money in this time of crisis we believe UEA have failed to recognise the the disastrous impact this will have on members of students and staff. 

have your say!

We want to hear from all students to gather feedback on both this decision but also experiences of teaching as an AT and being taught by ATs. 

what do we expect to see from UEA during and after this campaign?

  • An increase in the budget for PhD Associate Tutors for the 2020/21 academic year.


  • UEA to provide a public statement about the decisons it has taken relating to associate tutors.


  • An end to fractional and casualised contracts. 


  • For UEA to officially sign up to the UCU Postgraduate Emplyment Charter. 


  • For UEA to introduce an Associate Tutor Exectutive providing an institution wide decision making body.

additional information:

Prior to the global pandemic we'd made progress with UEA on various aspects of AT rights, and you can see what we were lobbying for here. This will also provide more context to the debate. 

If you have any thoughts on this please get in contact via email.

Our previous research in this area can be found here: PhD Students as Associate Tutors.

We have set up an AT Network which is part of this campaign and the Courage Wellbeing Project