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Update on agreement with UCU

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The following message was sent to all colleagues from the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Van de Noort.

Dear colleagues,

Last year, representatives from the University Executive Board and UCU concluded an extensive period of negotiation centred on contractual arrangements and expectations for colleagues with teaching responsibilities at Grade 6.

Agreement was reached on a number of significant matters, subject to a ballot of UCU members locally which closed on 18 December 2020. I am pleased to report that 95.6% of those who voted supported the proposed changes.

Although these discussions were challenging at times I believe the outcomes are positive and reflect the mutual interests of the University and UCU, demonstrating that positive change can be achieved through constructive engagement.

The agreement reached relates primarily to the contractual arrangements associated with sessional teaching staff, and a commitment to review the work carried out by Teaching Fellow colleagues with a view to conversion to substantive teaching-intensive Lecturer roles where certain conditions are met.

You may wish to view the full agreement, but by way of a summary the key outcomes are as follows:

  • A new role profile has been agreed that sets out a defined range of teaching and support activities appropriate to Grade 6.
  • The employment of sessional teaching staff is restricted to covering for short-term staff absence or to cover other unforeseen or urgent short-term additional teaching staff needs.
  • Sessional staff will normally be appointed for no longer than 12 months.
  • Sessional teaching staff hourly rates of pay will be in line with the appropriate grade as per the University pay scales, and will be consistent across the University.
  • For every hour of contact time, all sessional teaching staff will be paid on a multiplier of 3, i.e. one hour paid for contact time and two hours paid at the same rate for preparation and module administration, with further additional payments reflecting summative assessment needs.
  • Sessional teaching staff will be offered an additional 3.5% of their total hours for CPD purposes.
  • A new job title will be introduced to reflect appropriate teaching activity at Grade 6, to be agreed in further discussion with UCU as being one of Teaching Associate, Associate Lecturer or University Tutor.
  • There will be a review this term of the work carried out by current Grade 6 Teaching Fellow colleagues with a view to conversion to a substantive teaching-intensive Lecturer role where appropriate.
  • A joint panel comprising University and UCU representatives will meet regularly to monitor and review the practical application of this agreement, and to periodically review the status of colleagues employed on successive fixed-term contracts of employment.

Several aspects of the agreement need significant changes to key HR systems and processes, and we are working to make these operational changes as soon as possible. Others are already underway, with the review of Teaching Fellow activity being an immediate priority.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank all those who have contributed to the negotiation process, the outcomes of which reflect the value of our collective and collaborative arrangements.

If you have any questions about the agreement please contact John Brady, Director of Human Resources, at


Professor Robert Van de Noort

Vice-Chancellor, University of Reading

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