Around 50 postgraduate students gathered for the “What is the Future for Young Academics” conference in London last Saturday. It was backed by the London region of the UCU union.
Participants came from as far as Dundee, Liverpool and Portsmouth to plan a fightback against the continuing erosion of their working life.
Postgraduates are often employed by universities on an hourly rate—teaching seminars, marking coursework and supervising undergraduate dissertations.
Attendees reported often having to work three times the number of hours they were paid for.
Activists took part in workshops on understanding and organising around employment rights, on the impact of funding cuts and on working with UCU as well as the National Union of Students and the TUC.
The conference launched the Postgraduate Workers Association. This network plans to organise a speaking tour of campuses across the country and a follow-up national conference as well as a presence on coming demonstrations.