GIOVENTU » €3.75 per hour earned by Italian University Teachers?

€3.75 per hour earned by Italian University Teachers?

According to a survey of the union of temporary workers and trade unions in Bologna, Italian University teachers earn as little as €3.75 per hour. In the country which was one of the cradles of western culture, courses that are quintessential to the academic curriculum are taught by 26,000 underpaid temporary professors. The survey shows teachers at university earn between €4.28 and €17.14 per hour for a 60-hour course, or between €3.75 and €15 per hour, before tax, for a one-semester module. 85% of temporary professors in Italy teach classes assessed as compulsory for students’ curriculum, while Universities state that these external lecturers are hired only for minor disciplines or lab work.

As a consequence, these highly skilled, well-educated professionals are often forced to take on other jobs, in order to survive.  

According to the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research, male professors account for 60% of the staff on “zero-hours contracts”. Female staff in Italian universities make up 35% of the total workforce, reflecting Italy’s gender gap in the labour market, where women tend to occupy less remunerative and prestigious positions. This is showed by the fact that at lower levels of education, such as primary, secondary education and high-school, women account for 83% of the teaching labour force.

Flc-Cgil unions and the network of temporary workers behind the study estimate that Universities’ short-term contractors end up working “for free” 78% of their total time. Moreover, basic rights cannot be taken for granted: temporary teachers cannot benefit from maternity or paternity leave, sick leave or holidays.

A 2011 decree sets the salary for the temporary professors between €25 and €100 per hour before tax, but each university applies different tariffs within this range depending on the resources available.

Previous teaching experience gives extra points when applying for a full-time role within universities via open competitions. For this reason, young and older professionals continue to teach in the hope of permanently accessing the Academic ranks.

The problem concerns university and education as a whole, as teachers’ salaries are among the lowest in Europe but people don’t protest fearing repercussions on their career.

France has the same issue with the so-called Chargé d'enseignement vacataires, who can earn as little as €7.13.

The Spanish equivalent of the “professori a contratto” are associated professors earning about €5 per hour.

Things are not much better in the UK where, as it was reported by the Guardian, teaching is now dominated by zero-hour contracts, temp agencies and other forms of temporary work. A 44-year-old politics lecturer working at three different institutions at once could only earn just over £6,000 (€6,848) a year, relying on benefits to top up his poverty pay.

Giulia Lombardo

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