Thursday, 12 March 2009

Cream of the crop

Arguably the best deals for summer school teachers in the UK are at universities

From EL Gazette, February 2009

UK University EAP programmes are generally regarded as a much better deal for suitably-qualified teachers than the traditional private summer school EFL market, and EFL teachers who want to aim higher should look into teaching on a higher education English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programme. EAP providers, especially in the public sector, where the workforce is unionised and the contracts are regulated, are much clearer than the traditional ‘straight’ English language summer schools onthe actual number of hours you will end up working for your money. This reputation for clarity in stating the deal up-front is confirmed below.

Jonathan White, deputy head of campaigns at the University and College Union (UCU), which represents higher education lecturers, told the Gazette that ‘salaries are obviously important, but we would advise anyone looking to work in the university sector to also consider the full range of terms and conditions, including… the place of EAP courses within the overall academic programme of an institution… Our view would be that once all this is considered, there is no question that you would be far better off working as an employee of a university rather than of a private company.’

Although our questions were specific to summer course employment, most respondents’ replies didn’t restrict themselves to summer courses, and told us about year-round EAP programmes or teaching Applied Linguistics. The lecturer’s trade union sent comments that were aimed more at comparing permanent posts in the public sector with the private sector. While all universities that replied still have EAP summer school vacancies every year, this pre-occupation with year-round, permanent posts may mean that there’s more reliance on permanent staff and less call for temporary teachers for the summer. (We noticed a flurry of activity on job sites for permanent UK EAP lecturing jobs in December, at the time of writing.)

The Gazette emailed 19 full BALEAP members as well as a random selection of our existing EAP contacts, and contacted the press offices of the big private sector EAP providers. At the time of writing, only six providers had responded, all in the public sector. Several others, including Kaplan, had promised to get back to us, but no reply was with us come the deadline. To be fair, several universities excused themselves for being too busy preparing for marketing visits in the run-up to Christmas.

Two universities, both in the Russell Group, agreed to respond on the basis that replies were not attributed to them. Such coyness about salaries, terms and conditions seems a little odd, given that that the details mostly don’t vary too much from those already published for last years’ summer schools, providers are mostly planning to put comprehensive details of their vacancies up on job sites and on their own websites within the next couple of months.

One university asked for an ‘internationally recognised TELF diploma,’ we think they meant to type ‘Tefl diploma.’ There are some universities that offer a way into EAP for the newly qualified.

Several universities asked for a Delta and an MA, which given the global shortage of Dip (DELTA)-qualified teachers and the expense of getting either qualification, never mind both, is pushing their luck. More than one university mentioned a disparity in what qualifications they wanted by way of qualifications, and what they actually got.

Teachers abroad who are returning to the UK to teach EAP in the summer should note that only two out of six respondents did offer subsidised on-campus accommodation at half the normal rent, with one other saying accommodation was available, but at market rents. One anonymous campus university said ‘accommodation is provided if teachers live beyond commuting distance,’ rent was not mentioned.

All universities say that responding to ads on their own website’s vacancies page, as well as and the Education Guardian newspaper (out every Tuesday) is the way to apply for EAP summer jobs. Some of these, of course, will also be advertised on the jobs listing on the EL Gazette website. One respondent told us they ‘wouldn't necessarily discourage well-qualified applicants from sending in their CV at any time of the year, though: we sometimes need extra staff in January.’ Prospective summer EAP teachers should keep an eye out, as vacancies are announced from January all the way through to April.

Tim Marr and Janet Enever, senior lecturers in Applied Linguistics London Metropolitan University said their minimum qualifications were an MA Tesol or similar plus Delta, although they ‘believe that currently a university is able to 'carry' a small percentage of Celta qualified staff.’ Hours are 35 hours a week full-time, of which 15-18 are contact teaching hours. Short term, long term or permanent contracts are available.

Some London Met part-time posts are paid hourly-rate, full-time ones are as per their annual contract. The lecturers we contacted were ‘not aware of current rates’ of pay, and forwarded our enquiry on this to English Language Services. London Met did say that holiday pay a legal requirement.

A Russell Group university that preferred not to be named, said they advertise summer vacancies ‘if they need to in March and April.’. The university’s minimum qualifications were a Degree (‘foreign languages preferred’)and Delta or equivalent – Celta plus a relevant MA being regarded as Delta equivalent. They also need three years’ experience, preferably with some of this in EAP. Hours for their summer courses are ‘up to 18 a week,’ (presumably this means 18 contact teaching hours), with contracts of seven or 11 weeks to cover six-week and 10-week pre-sessional courses. Accommodation is not part of the deal, but university halls of residence are available at around £80 a week. Rates are ‘expected to be £650 a week in 2009,’ including holiday pay.

Liz Austin, pre-sessional programme leader at Essex University, says her programme requires a Delta or equivalent, with an MA ‘desirable’. Essex requires ‘extensive Tefl experience’ and prefers EAP teaching experience in ‘a British HE setting.’ Contracts are 10-11 weeks from mid-July to mid-September. There 24 contact hours a week, including
‘class, tutorials, attendance at lectures, long assignment marking.’ They expect teachers to do ‘class preparation and homework marking’ on top of that.

Essex’s 2008 salary was £5,350 (presumably for the 10-11 weeks) plus 8 per cent holiday pay and a bonus paid to tutors who’ve taught there before. The package includes several days’ induction and workshops during the course as part of salaried hours, and teachers can on free course trips and attend course social events if they want to. Liz describes the Essex pre-sessional as a ‘good starting point for experienced TEFL tutors looking to move across to EAP teaching.. Tutors with less experience in EAP are well-supported by senior staff.’

Another Russell Group university that didn’t want to be named said their minimum requirement is a Celta, though they’ve only ever taken on teachers with a Dip or an MA in ELT and at least three years’ experience in EAP. ‘We pay for 20 hours per week but in fact teachers have 15-17 hours of classroom contact.’ Rates are £3032 per five week phase (including holiday pay).

Ros Richards, Director of the the school of languages and European studies at the University of Reading said advertising starts in February, and advised that ‘quite a few institutions use the jobs section of the BALEAP website.’ Reading needs at least a Dip Tefl or equivalent, ‘but we seek to appoint with relevant MA plus EAP teaching experience.’ Reading’s contracted teaching hours ‘average 19 per week.’ Depending on the nature of the pre-sessional block they’re engaged to teach on, Reading have 11-week, 8-week and five-week courses. They offer 50 per cent off specified University hall accommodation. Their rates for 2008 were £542.55 to new teachers and £558.81 to returning teachers, and these will go up by 5 per cent next summer. An extra 9.21 per cent is paid out in holiday pay.

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