Employed Postgraduates

Do you work as a tutor, teaching assistant, researcher, demonstrator, invigilator or do any other paid work for the university? Know your rights!  Any postgrad who teaches is entitled to Full Membership of UCU FREE for up to four years.  No strings attached - just a brilliant offer and our way of supporting our most vulnerable group of workers.  As a full member you have access to all of the benefits of membership including personal case support.

National UCU support

Teaching Assistants represented by the UCU have won better pay, more reasonable estimates of the hours they work, regular wage rises experience, reductions to the number of students in tutorials, and more stable employment contracts.

UCU is the main union representing hourly-paid teaching staff - including at the University of Aberdeen.

Nationally, UCU negotiates annual pay increases which are applied to all staff, including those on hourly-paid contracts. We also negotiate local terms and conditions of employment.

Local AUCU support

Locally AUCU supported a campaign by postgraduates employed as Teaching Assistants in the School of Social Science. This resulted in a major pay rise because the School was forced to recognise all the marking, administration, preparation and course evaluation work that Teaching Assistants undertake. Now, a Teaching Assistant teaching 3 tutorial groups will be paid for 88 hours of work instead of the previous level of 62 hours.

Teaching Assistants in that School now also receive a pay rise for each year of experience and the School will pay for TAs to become an Associate of the Higher Education Academy (a teaching accreditation). The School also agreed to reduce the number of students in each tutorial, which will benefit everyone.

Young Members

UCU now has 10,000 folk signed up to the ‘Young Members Network’.

Young members have their own section of the UCU website called ‘All In it Together’ This page is designed to be an easily accessible 'one stop shop' for young members who want to get more active in the union and also to provide members at the start of their careers with useful professional support and career development resources.

Resources for young members

Hourly Paid Staff

UCU's hourly paid survival guide uses the experience and advice of our hourly-paid members to provide a practical resource for staff on these kinds of contracts.
It outlines the rights of hourly paid staff and what they can expect from their institutions

  • offers practical advice on how to survive difficult employment conditions
  • suggests ways in which to seek improvements
  • explains what UCU is trying to achieve
  • offers a range of support options.

The guide provides a great opportunity to recruit new members and organise so that hourly paid members are better-represented in their union and increase UCU's ability to achieve much-needed improvements for hourly paid staff in your branch.


UCU offers specific training for postgraduate and early careers members. Example from last year in Scotland are:

Course 1: There's no need to shout!

This 1 day practical interactive workshop is aimed at members who are involved in teaching. It looks at how to boost vocal capability and clarity in your learning environment. Advice is also given on how to use the voice in a positive, calm and assertive manner to help manage student behaviour.

Course 2: Assertiveness

This course is aimed at members who want to develop their understanding of what constitutes effective communication and behaviour. The course seeks to help individuals create a tool kit of assertiveness techniques and skills that can be drawn on in challenging situations.

Course 3: Managing student behaviour from the start!

This 1 day course is aimed at UCU members starting off in their careers in tertiary education. The course is specifically for those who are involved in teaching and face challenging student behaviour.

If you would be interested in any training, please contact Susan Melvin(ucu@abdn.ac.uk | 01224 272377)