Postgraduate members

Postgraduate students are a key part of the Cardiff UCU branch and the wider UCU community, and we actively campaign for the rights of postgraduate students.

What we have done over the last few years:

  • Worked with postgraduate members on the campaign for proper employment contracts, which are now implemented;
  • Created a specific PGR Rep role on the branch Executive Committee;
  • Campaigned to change UCU’s rules on student membership so that postgraduate researchers have full membership and can participate at every level of UCU accordingly;
  • Passed motions calling for the continuation of UCU’s PGRs as Staff campaign.

Postgraduate teachers and demonstrators

It has been our priority and longest-running campaign to get contracts for PGRs who teach or demonstrate. We know the damage caused by financial insecurity, the lack of employment rights and unclear processes due to your dual role as both a student and a worker. Having a proper contract of employment is the first step towards being able to collectively bargain for you as workers, and give you some increased job security. However, contracts in themselves do not stop poor working practices and we will continue to fight with you on collective issues such as inconsistency, lack of transparency and workload. Please read the SU’s Know Your Rights page and contact the Cardiff UCU office if you have any problems at work.

We have produced FAQ leaflets for Graduate Tutors/Demonstrators (GT/Ds) and staff who have responsibility for GT/Ds. You can view and download these using the links below:

UCU membership for postgraduate students

There are three types of membership that postgraduate students can have: Standard (Free or Paying); Postgraduate Researcher, and Student. You can read full details of these on UCU’s page here.

  1. Standard (free or paying)

If you are an enrolled PhD student who is also contracted to teach at the higher education institution at which you are registered for your PhD studies, UCU offers free membership for up one year. Standard Free membership is not designed for existing staff who subsequently register for a PhD where they work.

Once your free membership expires, you will be asked if you want to transfer to paying membership. It is likely that as a postgraduate researcher you will be in the lower bands of pay for subscriptions, which start from as little as £1 a month. You can view the rates here: Subscription rates

2. Postgraduate Researcher membership

This category is open to those who are enrolled on (or prior to graduation from) a postgraduate research programme at an institution based in the United Kingdom and are not in accompanying employment that would entitle you to join as a standard member.

This category provides you with all the entitlements of Standard membership, in addition to those afforded to Student members. This will allow you to fully participate in UCU’s democratic processes, including voting in branch meetings and national leadership elections, standing for position in your branch or nationally, and acting as a branch delegate in national meetings and conferences.

As you are not employed by a higher education institute you will not be eligible to take part in any local or national industrial action ballot.

This category is capped at the lowest subscription rate of around £1 per month.

3. Student membership: free

UCU’s ‘student membership’ category is open to students training to teach in post-school education, including PGCE students. If you are a postgraduate student at a university or HE college and are planning a career in higher education (but are not an employed postgraduate student) you are also eligible for student membership. This category of membership is free while you complete your studies.

Student members are not eligible to vote in ballots or general meetings, or hold positions on local executive committees.