The Higher Education Green Paper will intensify existing processes of casualisation, which we know damages the relationship between lecturers and students and makes it harder to achieve true teaching ‘excellence’. The for-profit ‘private providers’ that the Green Paper wants to encourage to take over both HE institutions and individual courses will inevitably employ more staff on short term, insecure and zero hours contracts. This will further undermine national bargaining and pay scales and ultimately the ability of the union to act collectively on behalf of the academic workforce as a whole.
The vague proposal for one of the metrics for the Teaching Excellence Framework to be based upon how much teaching is done by permanent staff is nothing more than window dressing. It is embedded with a wider and much more profound project to privatise the university system as a whole. Such privatisation has always gone hand in hand with casualisation, a process which will not be halted even if the above proposal should be included in the final TEF. Casualisation not only blights the lives of academic workers who don’t know where next year’s income will be coming from, it also means they do not stay at institutions long enough to build meaningful relationships with students and are required to teach courses without adequate preparation time. Under such conditions even the most talented and dedicated lecturers are prevented from doing their best for students. The way to ensure genuine ‘quality’ teaching is to pay lecturers a decent wage on secure contracts, and give us enough time and resources to support our students in striving for excellence.