Modern Languages staff feel “singled-out” by the University

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Languages staff have expressed how a lack of support from the University has left them feeling frustrated with their working conditions.

Some told Palatinate they are “the only ones facing the problem”, and feel “singled-out” by the University.

“We are the only ones facing this problem”

Out of the 25 such members of staff at Durham University, 23 are women. This has led some to accuse the University of “excluding female staff” from further scholarly advancement.

One academic added: “the higher up you go in the department, the more men you see.” A CFLS teacher told Palatinate how this “doesn’t reflect their ethos if they claim they want women to evolve. We work hard and Durham University doesn’t respect that.”

Assistant Teaching Fellows in the Modern Languages and Culture department (MLAC) design and lead modules, teach classes, and set examination papers.

As previously reported by Palatinate, the group of staff are excluded from the Academic Progression Scheme. Many have expressed their frustration at finding themselves in a “dead-end” in terms of career prospects.

The University previously told Palatinate that they were considering including the Grade 6 staff under the ‘Job Families Framework’. This is the same career support network used for admin staff.

Speaking to the paper, staff said that this would only be a “quick fix” to the problem, as “the University are indifferent and ignorant to what their staff really do”.

One member of staff told us how the exclusion from the scheme left them with “no motivation to go the extra length” with teaching and their own scholarship.

When asked what they would do next, MLAC and CFLS teachers told Palatinate they were
considering moving to other institutions. Within other universities, their job descriptions would categorise them as Grade 7 members of staff.

There are those within this predicament who have families settled in the North East and relocating is not an option, leaving them feeling “trapped”.

Antony Long, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, said: “We evaluate all professional services staff roles, between grades 1 and 9, using a role evaluation tool used across the higher education sector.”

The University stressed that staff are sometimes rewarded with one-off bonus payments and can apply for Grade 7 jobs.

Durham Casuals told Palatinate: “In practical terms, the majority of staff in grade 6 in MLAC are women. That’s a pretty big glass ceiling that’s just been dumped on a large cohort of experienced and valued colleagues who deserve better from the institution.”

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@julia_atherley

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