More than 1,000 staff at universities and colleges across the region are on zero hours contracts where they do not know if they have work from one week to the next, new figures reveal today.
Wolverhampton University has the ninth highest number of workers – 773 – on the contracts, out of 138 institutions throughout the UK.
Some 105 at Wolverhampton College are also on zero hours, along with 262 at Dudley College.
The Universities and Colleges Union, which carried out the study, says the figures expose the ‘murky world’ of casualisation in the sector.
At Wolverhampton College there are 52 lecturers and teaching staff on zero hours, and of those 44 have had no work in at least one month since August 2012. There are also 53 teaching assistants on the contracts.
Dudley College has 177 lecturers and teachers, with 15 going at least one month without work since August 2012, and 85 teaching assistants on zero hours.
Sandwell College has none, while Halesowen and South Staffordshire colleges did not reply to the Freedom of Information request submitted by the union.
Neither Staffordshire, Keele nor Birmingham City universities have any staff on the contracts.
The study showed that some institutions in the country had more than 1,000 employees on zero hours contracts. Universities and colleges were twice as likely to use such contracts than other workplaces, the study showed.
Steph Harris, director of human resources for Wolverhampton University, said: “These contracts are seen as being very attractive to many of our visiting lecturers as they provide greater flexibility in enabling these staff to combine other activities such as research or other employment. It also gives the university greater flexibility in meeting the fluctuating demands of our students throughout the academic year.”
Wolverhampton College Principal Mark Robertson said: “Colleges have historically used zero-hours contracts to ensure that their workforce is flexible enough to meet varying student demand, however City of Wolverhampton College has sought to reduce the proportion of staff it employs in this way by offering permanent employment opportunities wherever possible.”
UCU president Simon Renton said: “Our findings shine a light on the murky world of casualisation in further and higher education. Their widespread use is the unacceptable underbelly of our colleges and universities.”