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New contract deal for Associate Lecturers

The Open University (OU) and University and College Union (UCU) have announced the successful negotiation of a new permanent contact for Associate Lecturers (ALs).

The 4,000 ALs play a vital role in the delivery of OU course material and are the primary point of contact for all current students.

What the new contract means

The new, permanent contract highlights the OU’s commitment to ensuring that ALs have the same job security and similar employment benefits as other staff.  The contract will further improve the student experience by maintaining the high-level AL study support to students.

Previously ALs were appointed on a module by module basis which for the proportion of ALs who support OU students full-time caused some issues as they were unable to prove a continuous source of income.

Commenting on the result of the negotiations Professor Mary Kellett, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University said,

“It’s hard to describe just how thrilled I am that UCU’s AL members have voted in favour of the new AL contract. This is a huge step towards an inclusive OU family, and a united teaching workforce. My heartfelt thanks go to all who have been involved in negotiations over the years to get us to this point.”

Years in the making

Lydia Richards, UCU Regional Officer, said,‘The new contract is a huge step forward for associate lecturers at the Open University. It means they are free from the fear of being out of work if there is a fluctuation in student numbers.

‘Other universities could learn a lot from the way the Open University has approached this issue. We need to move away from a hiring and firing culture if numbers change to ensure better security for staff. Universities should be looking to negotiate with the union, not trying to sweep the issue of casual employment under the carpet.’

“It has taken years of hard work to get here and we know that there is still a lot to be sorted, but UCU are delighted with the result. This represents a huge move forward on behalf of the University in ending casualisation at the OU. UCU will continue to work hard on behalf of our members at the OU and value the positive way in which these negotiations have been handled.”

The new contract arrangements are setting a new president for the sector and will take up to two years to implement.


About Author

Rachel is Senior Manager, Media Relations team. She is a skilled communicator with more than ten years’ experience in Public Relations. She holds a BA (Hons) Media Production from the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside. Rachel specialises in stories from the Faculty of Business and Law, students, academic research, BBC programmes, technology, innovation and skills. Rachel has three large dogs, two children and enjoys growing her own veg.

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