Know Your Rights!

Since 2018, the Students’ Union has collaborated closely with the University and UCU to establish proper contracts for PGRs engaged in teaching and demonstrating. The aim is to ensure that PGRs receive the rightful recognition and rights equivalent to those of staff members employed by the University.

Previously, Postgraduate Tutors and Demonstrators followed a ‘Code of Practice’, which is a document outlining engagement arrangements for Postgraduate Research (PGR) Tutors and Demonstrators. However, this Code of Practice did not establish a contract of employment and failed to recognise PGRs who engaged in teaching or demonstrating as staff. Consequently, PGRs were denied access to various privileges, including sick pay, car parking, the staff intranet, and other the rights associated with university employment.

What's new?

As highlighted, a significant change has been implemented. PGRs will no longer operate under the 'Code of Practice', and the terms of their employment will be outlined in four distinct documents:

  • The Letter of Appointment, which defines the terms of engagement
  • The Terms and Conditions of Employment (the contract)
  • The University's Contractual Policies
  • The job description of either a Graduate Tutor or Demonstrator, which has largely remained unchanged.

This new contract explicitly emphasises that the roles of teaching and demonstrating are pivotal for professional development. Unlike the previous Code of Practice, this contract is established for a fixed term of 3 years (with the possibility of extension for a year). This means that engagement in Graduate Tutor (GT) and Demonstrator (GD) duties is exclusive to current PGRs at the University. If a PGR discontinues their studies for any reason, the contract will be terminated.

Additionally, both full-time and part-time PGRs will now be subject to a maximum annual work limit of 180 hours. Funded students should also be aware of any specific working restrictions outlined by their respective funders. Furthermore, PGRs holding a tier 4 visa are limited to a maximum of 20 hours of work per week, which encompasses both paid and voluntary roles.

In cases where a PGR fulfils both the roles of a GT/D, they will have two separate contracts. It is important to note that the cap on hours allocated to these roles will still be applicable.

To ensure a seamless and supportive experience, each GT/D will be assigned a dedicated line manager. This individual, who will not be either the module lead or supervisor, will serve as the main point of contact. They will oversee that employment commitments do not hinder research activities and that the terms of the employment contract are upheld. In case of situations where a GT or GD is unable to teach due to illness or other reasons, the line manager will be the designated contact.

A formal process has been introduced for the exchange of working hours due to commitments such as conferences. This process must now be coordinated through the designated line manager.

Furthermore, digital submission of hours, which has been previously adopted by some schools, is now being expanded across all schools to streamline administrative procedures.

Your Rights

The transition from a code of engagement to an employment contract marks a significant step forward. Graduate Tutors and Demonstrators will now have comprehensive rights and benefits that are equivalent to staff positions within the University. These rights include:

  • Sick pay
  • Eligibility to apply for a car parking permit
  • Annual pay increments
  • The ability to request re-grading
  • Increased holiday pay
  • Enrolment in the USS pension scheme (for tutors) and the CUPS pension scheme (for demonstrators)
  • The option to join a union, which provides additional support and representation.

Further Support or Advice

Join a union!

As a PGR you are eligible for membership with the University College Union (UCU). As a member of UCU, you will have access to:

  • A range of training and professional development courses and resources to help you teach and research to the best of your ability.
  • Expert advice on financial, legal and discrimination matters.
  • A network of academics and researchers in Cardiff and across the UK to meet and network with.

For more information on joining UCU visit:

Contact the Students' Union - 

As a PGR you are automatically a member of Cardiff Students’ Union, meaning you have access to all the support and services which we have to offer, including: 

  • Student Advice, which is a free, confidential, impartial service which is separate from the University. They can support and advise you on areas such as employment matters, academic issues, complaints, and health and wellbeing.
  • ​A dedicated elected Postgraduate representative. Micaela is your Vice-President Postgraduate Students and it’s her full-time job to represent you on all matters education and welfare!

We are committed to ensuring a positive and fulfilling experience for our dedicated Graduate Tutors and Demonstrators. Should you require further information or assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at: