Thursday, 1 October 2020
Department of Education and Skills
Third Level Staff
238. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the use of postgraduates in precarious positions for teaching and other duties is increasing in NUIG and that the university expects postgraduate workers to carry out unpaid teaching; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that postgraduates at NUIG have declared their intention to refuse to carry out work which is not remunerated at the existing collectively bargained rate; and the steps he will take to meet the demands of postgraduate workers (details supplied). [27778/20]
Universities are autonomous institutions within the meaning of the Universities Act 1997 and the management of their academic affairs, including the delivery of their courses are matters for the individual institutions. However, the Department of Further & Higher Education, Research Innovation and Science would encourage both sides to engage to resolve this matter.
The Department understands that NUI Galway offers an accredited blended-learning training course on demonstrating/tutoring to assist in improving teaching skills, and that their PhD students are required to make contributions of on average some 5 hours per week over 24 weeks, over three academic years, without extra payment.
A range of activities can be included such as taking tutorial groups, demonstrating at practical classes, co-supervising undergraduate projects and student mentoring. Hours may be included that are spent in class preparation, advising, monitoring student projects, and correcting projects, notebooks or essays and will vary according to School/Discipline norms, and the allocation of teaching contribution is managed at academic unit level. Students in receipt of research grants comply with the terms of their funding award.
Contributing to teaching is an integral part of the training of a research Master’s or PhD student. Teaching contribution assists in the acquisition of generic and transferable skills, as described in the National Framework for Doctoral Education and in the PhD Graduate Skills Statement from the Irish Universities Association. NUIG states that while contributing to teaching is part of the training of a research Master’s or PhD student, the core component of the research programmes is the advancement of knowledge through original research.