There’s never a guarantee that your one-year contract will be renewed, and universities commonly draw up class schedules on the basis of a very optimistic projection of student numbers in the coming school year. Part-time teachers then have to block off hours during their week so that they can take the classes on offer. However, if the expected number of students does not materialise by the start of the semester, then the classes you were allocated some months previously will be cancelled. Of course by this time it’s far too late to look for teaching hours at other institutions. In this way universities ask us to gamble on there being enough students for all the classes they want to schedule. If the gamble pays off, they have all the teachers they need. If it doesn’t, we end up with a gaping hole in our work week. That’s a great system for the universities (they just can’t lose!), but it can be a raw deal for teachers.
Just such a raw deal was what recently faced a Union member at Nagoya’s Chukyo University Open College. (An “open college” is a university department providing classes in English and other subjects primarily to people of post-university age.) He was dismayed to hear in mid-March this year that, because of low student enrolment, only 2 of the 4 classes he had been asked to teach at the College from April would go ahead. That was after he’d given up teaching hours at another university for the sake of Open College classes. He reported the problem to the Union and fortunately, through negotiation with Chukyo University, we were able to obtain generous compensation for him.
Part-time university teachers are education professionals who deserve a secure livelihood for themselves and their families. Universities should get their figures right. If they don’t, the Union believes they should compensate teachers when cancelling scheduled classes.
If you are faced with sudden cancellation of classes, or told that some of your classes will be cut next year, we may be able to help.
Don’t accept job insecurity – call us for a consultation!