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Nottingham Trent tutors face pay cuts as head exits

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Architecture studio tutors at Nottingham Trent University have told the AJ of their shock at proposals to reduce their pay

According to sources, the university wants to ‘normalise’ tutors’ salaries to match the pay levels of other teaching posts, meaning hourly rates could plummet from £41.67 to nearer £20.

The news comes as it was confirmed the school’s head, former YRM and RMJM director Iain Macdonald had left the university to head up Scott Brownrigg’s Advanced Technologies unit.

Studio tutors at the East Midlands university told the AJ they were concerned that the quality of teaching would suffer as a result of the proposed rate reductions.

Following a consultation over their contracts during the summer, the hourly-paid lecturers also said they felt their work was misunderstood.

‘Studio tutor posts were being advertised at the new rate before the consultation had even ended,, said one tutor.

Historically the rates of pay were described as ‘an hourly rate plus a factor to account for marking, feedback and preparation’ but, according to tutors, ‘there was a lot of goodwill in the mix’.

One staff member who had worked at the university for more than eight years said the move to lower the rates showed ‘how little [the school] valued crucial staff’.  

Another warned that the move could see the university lose staff to other local institutions like De Montfort in Leicester, Lincoln School of Architecture and the University of Nottingham.

However, another added that the problem was more widespread.

He said: ‘Hourly-paid lecturers are treated as fodder at a lot of universities. It’s a universal problem, with low pay and no security.’

He added: ‘Architecture as a profession-needs to be taught by practitioners and supported by theory. We give our time at the expense of days in the office mostly because we all believe in good education for architects. But the time required in studio and for prep, marking, and student care outside deserves fair remuneration.

‘To cut rates to almost half is truly an insult, and means they will only get practitioners in great financial need, or those who have just graduated with very little practical experience.’

The school confirmed that the consultation over rates of pay was ongoing and due to be concluded in the next three weeks. The university is also currently advertising for a new head.

Statement from the Nottingham Trent University

‘We have proposed the introduction of a designated studio contract. The intention is to move from an hourly rate to a day rate for designated studio work, consolidating the activities which take place in the day, whilst still recognising the activities that fall outside of the designated studio hours. The consultation process remains ongoing and is expected to be concluded within the next week.  As part of this process we have held a series of communications which academics have engaged in positively.  There will be full provision in place when term starts at the beginning of October.’

Statement from an anonymous studio tutor at Nottingham Trent Unversity

‘The drastic cut in pay has been a shock to all of us and is based on the myth that the entirety of our work is carried out within studio time. We spend significant hours outside of the studio marking and writing up feedback as well as preparing lectures based on our experience as practitioners. The ‘consultation’ carried out by NTU prior to issuing new contracts appears to have been a statement of a decision already taken, there is no evidence that any of the feedback from staff has been taken into account.

‘Students always tell us how much they value our input and the diversity of influences they gain from part time staff. External reviewers were cut from project crits last year, leaving stretched full-time staff to plug the gap. Now a pay cut of approximately 52 per cent for hourly paid lecturers teaching in studio means that tutors who can are leaving now, and most others are likely to follow as soon as other opportunities arise. I’m not sure who will be employed to fill the gap, but losing the wealth of external experience that current part time staff bring to studio can only be detrimental to the student’s experience. 

‘Design studio is consistently one of students’ favourite modules, often providing the inspiration and support to keep them going through the course. Its also an extremely challenging environment for both tutors and students. The imminent loss of a significant number of experienced staff from NTU is likely to lead to turmoil at the beginning of term as with only three weeks to go no-one knows who is working or on what basis. Getting off to a flying start at the start of the year is imperative on a demanding course like architecture. When students are paying the full £9,000 tuition fee they are bound to question where that money is going.’

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