Yesterday, I received a permanent lectureship offer from a UK university whose job description explicitly included two points:

1- The research workload and teaching workload are %80 and %20, respectively.

2- They assign a Ph.D. student to me for the first year of my affiliation (before I have even attracted money for my future research)

I had clearly discussed these points during the interview, and the chair of the committee verbally confirmed them. Today, I had a meeting with a HR member about the contract, but she said they will not bring these two points in their contract since their contracts are generic. She instead said the university may offer a letter in which these two is noted. I don't know what that letter could be, but I am clearly concerned that when I start, I would get bombarded by a lot of teaching if the first subject is not cemented in the contract. The second one may also be ignored by them in a similar vein.

Overall, it seems they openly disregard the coverage of the subjects of their job description. Is that common practice in UK and one may trust them not to violate those subjects in the future, or it is a red flag?

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    A point of clarification on phrasing - did they "offer a letter" noting these two points, or say they are/would be stated in the "offer letter" for the post? The "offer letter" is a formal part of the hiring process in most universities, setting out terms, salary etc. at a high level, and does have legal status - an accepted (unconditional) offer is binding on both parties, even without a more comprehensive contract being signed. So that would have relatively more weight than a generic letter. (Standard disclaimer: IANAL, but this is my understanding from both sides of hiring process in UK.) Commented Apr 6, 2022 at 19:47
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    Is this a unionized job? If so, they really cannot customize the contract. Speak with the union. Commented Apr 6, 2022 at 19:55
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    @AnonymousPhysicist: I don't know whether lectureships in UK are unionized. But let's assume it is. Then, how can they (the union) make any enforcement in case the university will not steak to the terms of the job description that have not been reflected in the contract?
    – user41207
    Commented Apr 6, 2022 at 20:02
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    @Buffy: If the meaning of the "standardized" is not clearly documented in a contract somewhere, they can later rewrite that meaning in every occasion based on what they want. To my inexperienced eye, that "generic" may more look like "whatever we ask you to do regardless of what we have already claimed". But it may be a common happening in UK system. So, I am wondering how people deal with it.
    – user41207
    Commented Apr 6, 2022 at 20:22
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    I'd ask about admin duties as well - research teaching and admin are the three halves of my job ;o) Note also you may not have contracted working hours, in which case the 80:20 split may not be all that meaningful. Commented Apr 6, 2022 at 21:41

1 Answer 1


This is completely standard in a UK setting. Everybody in the university with the same job title will have the same contract. Probably somewhere it will say "your complete terms and conditions of employment comprise this document and any offer letter you received".

An on-going 80:20 split is highly unusual. Teaching relief in the first few years is normal, but eventually most staff would expect to be 50:50. Unless this is a "research fellow" position. Thus, i would absolutely make sure you get this in writing. A letter "noting" it or whatever is fine, but make sure you get it, and remind people who try to give you teaching of its existence frequently. Ditto the offer of a PhD student, which is a fairly common form of start up support, but has been known to mysteriously disappear if economic times get tough.

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