officer blog


ayane hida

postgraduate education

support phd students who teach

Dear all,

I hope you are safe!

Today I’m writing this to ask you for your help.

If you are a masters (PGT) student or undergraduate student, you have probably had a seminar class taught by PhD (PGR) students, known as Associate Tutors (AT). Associate Tutors do much of the work for seminars, including preparing seminars, marking your essays, discussing with lecturers and more. Due to COVID-19, UEA is facing financial challenges, and are trying to cut the budget for ATs.

We have launched a campaign called “Support PhD Students Who Teach”.

This is the campaign to lobby UEA in order to protect prospective Associate Tutors, who are our PGR students and members of the Students’ Union. Please help us by taking our survey here.

What do you think the impact will be if the university does not hire ATs?

  1. PGR students, who are depending on income from AT roles, might not be able to continue their research and have to give up their future plans because of lack of financial support
  2. Lecturers need to take over the workload the ATs have done previously, which means they will not have enough time to work on their seminars and lectures. The quality of teaching could drop (some schools rely on ATs about 50% of taught content)
  3. PGR students will lose the opportunity to gain teaching experience
  4. PGT and UG lecturers will also be busy with their own research. Another reason why ATs usually help out with the teaching workload
  5. PGT and UG may not have enough support from their lecturers, due to their increased workload

We paid tuition fees that is supposed to develop our academic and campus life. Diminishing the number of ATs may lead to reduced quality of education for PGTs and UGs. This issue doesn’t only affect PGR students but also PGT (Masters) and UG students.

UEA officially notes in their Student Charter that:

Students will have the chance to enhance both your academic and professional skills, and your knowledge and understanding through engagement with a wide range of flexible learning opportunities such as teaching events, assessment tasks, research activities, placements and new technologies. Our education integrates employability skills into your programme of study.

Also, UEA undertakes to:

Provide you with clear and concise information relating to your studies; Provide well-defined and transparent procedures for academic appeals, complaints and any disciplinary matters, including those where professional requirements have to be met and offer access to independent advice and support from the Union Advice Centre.

UEA clearly states in their student charter that they provide all students lots of opportunities to develop our knowledge, skills and insight through both curriculum and extra-curricular activities, including “work experience, volunteering with the wider community and participation in the UEA Award”. A reduction in ATs compromises this ambition.

We had 697 ATs in the academic year 2019-20 (HUM 92, FMH 11, SCI 402 and SSF 192). These numbers include ATs who are not UEA students.

Our outcomes for our campaign are:

  • Making students (PGR, PGT and UG) aware of the issues and the impact on their future study without ATs
  • Having an official statement from UEA with detail about their plans for the AT budget and the impact on teaching
  • Minimise the number of students impacted by this change to teaching provision.

What are we going to do for our campaign?

  • Survey to understand impact of reduction in AT roles
  • Raising awareness of the impact through social media
  • Lobby the university to reconsider their stance on ATs

Once again, if you could please take the survey to help the PGR students who taught you and feel free to share this survey with your friends!

Remember, if you do experience financial issues there is a Hardship Fund you can apply for. You can also contact our kindly advice team.

If you have any questions, please email me at:

Many thanks,



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