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I recently left an full-time academic position in the UK for industry and the department wants me to continue to teach a module I have been in charge of as a visiting lecturer in future.

I do enjoy teaching this module to my students and I also think it's a good for me to keep links to academia this way. However, the visiting lecturer pay is less than 1/30th of my full-time annual salary before I left, while I probably spent 15-20% of my time teaching this module last year. Although I don't do this for the money, I do feel that the contract pay is too low to the point where I don't feel my time and effort in teaching this in my spare time is respected. Also, since there is no one else in the department that can teach this, I think I'm doing a favor by just agreeing to teach in the first place.

In short, while I'm inclined to accept the visiting lecturer position only for maintaining relations and not for the pay, I do feel a bit shocked at how low the pay is. Would you negotiate pay in this situation?

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    The question is: it is possible to negotiate? In many countries, university salaries even for guest lecturers are fixed by labor contracts and cannot be changed (easily).
    – Sursula
    Jun 28, 2022 at 12:27
  • Was last year the first time you taught the class? Or is that time spent representative of near steady state effort? Does your new job care about a 10% or so commitment to the university? Would class time interfere with work?
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 28, 2022 at 12:30
  • @Sursula-they- The value of each point on the salary scale is negotiated at the national level, but the scale point at which an indevidual is appointed is up to the university in question. Also, they amount of hours they hire a visiting lecturer for is up to them. Jun 28, 2022 at 15:38
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    Are they asking you to teach on the module, or lead the module? The difference in time commitment from administrative burden and grading could be very large, and reflect the difference in hours they expect.
    – Ian
    Jun 28, 2022 at 19:32
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    Yes, part-time teaching pay is atrocious everywhere. Just opt out.
    – Peter K.
    Jun 30, 2022 at 13:52

3 Answers 3

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Usually, remunerations for visiting professors are fixed and geared towards people who love to teach and have the time. You can ask, but do not expect any movement on their side. You might end up in a situation where both sides think that they do the other side a big favor. If this is the case, hurt usually follows.

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  • If both sides think they are doing the other a favor, then there has been a communication problem. So the advise is not so much to start negotiating, but to start communicating. What do you want out of this arrangement, what do they want out of this arrangement. Maybe you come to the conclusion that the goals are better attained if you visit the local colloquium once in a while and give a talk to students about what live is like outside university. Jun 30, 2022 at 14:02
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I recently left an full-time academic position in the UK for industry and the department wants me to continue to teach a module I have been in charge of as a visiting lecturer in future.

Just say no. That is not a reasonable request.

However, the visiting lecturer pay is less than 1/30th of my full-time annual salary before I left,

That's not a reasonable offer.

Also, since there is no one else in the department that can teach this

That is not your responsibility.

Would you negotiate pay in this situation?

No. It is pointless to negotiate an unreasonable offer.

I also think it's a good for me to keep links to academia this way.

It is better strategy to develop new links with a different university. That is how you develop your skills and reputation.

You left your job for a reason. Stick to the plan.

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    The only thing I disagree with here is the hard no on negotiation. OP certainly can try to negotiate, but should decide upfront what would be a reasonable offer that they would be happy with (i.e., avoid anchoring bias by the super-low initial offer), and should expect that most likely the outcome of this negotiaton will be negative.
    – xLeitix
    Jun 30, 2022 at 11:42
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I don't know what is possible in UK, so I'll assume for this answer that it is. Laws and regulations and union negotiations and such might make this impossible, of course.

But, assuming it is possible, there is no reason not to open a negotiation. If the course is important and you are the obvious person to teach it, and there aren't viable alternatives, then the administration will have an incentive to work with you in the short term, though they will likely want a different solution in the long term. This isn't like a course that any part-timer is likely to be able to cover adequately. That adds value.

I would start by asking for a prorated stipend based on your last salary. If teaching was 1/3 of the job and six courses were required of regular faculty, then the stipend for a course would be something like 1/18 of the last salary you earned.

I once had such a relationship with a university in the US for a couple of years for just the above reasons. And, as suggested, it was temporary.

As long as it is possible, you lose nothing by asking.

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  • In the UK, negotiating the rate per hour might be difficult (although you can certainly demand you were on the same salary point you were on when you left). But you should be able to negotiate how many hours they deem teaching the module to require. A common formula is 4 hours per lecture + 20 minutes per student. I'd ask for at least double that (as that better represents how long it actually takes). Jun 30, 2022 at 15:24

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