Co-operation negotiations concerning hourly-paid teaching have been concluded – Uniarts Helsinki establishes a new university arts teacher position

The new, permanent position of university arts teacher strengthens and clarifies the status of hourly-paid teachers and takes the special characteristics of teaching in the arts into consideration. During the first phase, 56 hourly-paid teachers are given permanent employment relationships.

Uniarts Helsinki launched co-operation negotiations on 4 June 2021 with the aim of clarifying the principles for the use of teachers’ hourly-paid employment contracts. The negotiations did not aim at terminating contracts, laying off employees or switching from full-time to part-time contracts.

The negotiations have now been concluded, and a solution that satisfied both the employer and the employee party was reached. The negotiations resulted in the signing of a local agreement, which will be applied as part of a fixed-term trial. The agreement compiled at Uniarts Helsinki is ground-breaking, because there have so far been hardly any local agreements in the university sector in Finland.

The agreement that was signed establishes a new university arts teacher position that is tailored for Uniarts Helsinki and that falls within the scope of the total working time system as well as the university salary system through an employment relationship that is valid until further notice. The position is teaching-centred, and compared to the position of lecturer, it involves a lot less administrative work. The part-time and monthly-salaried position of university arts teacher is only in use at Uniarts Helsinki.

“This reform is significant, because it provides much-awaited continuity, predictability and stability for the employment relationships of hourly-paid teachers who are part of the trial. At the same time, the new university arts teacher position meets the university’s special teaching needs in a financially sustainable way,” says Rector of Uniarts Helsinki Kaarlo Hildén.

At least 56 hourly-paid teachers receive permanent contracts

During the first phase, the trial agreement that was compiled in the negotiations will be applied to hourly-paid teachers who regularly have over 220 hours of instruction per academic year at Uniarts Helsinki. The review concerns 56 hourly-paid teachers who will receive permanent contracts; most of them will be offered the new university arts teacher position, while others will be offered a lecturer position.

The trial agreement will stay in force until 30 June 2025. During this period, the university will monitor the functionality of the agreement and examine the possibility of applying the position of university arts teacher more widely to hourly-paid teachers at Uniarts Helsinki.

A third of all teaching is hourly-paid teaching

Uniarts Helsinki’s teaching in the arts differs significantly from teaching given by other universities. In the arts, the learning process requires a lot of personal guidance and supervision. That is why academic positions at Uniarts Helsinki are teaching-centred, and teaching is provided not only by the university’s permanent staff but also by a large group of arts professionals working as hourly-paid teachers.

Hourly-paid teaching, comprises, in fact, a much larger share of teaching at Uniarts Helsinki compared to other universities: about 35 per cent of full-time equivalent academic staff’s teaching consists of hourly-paid teaching. 

Teaching needs also vary from year to year based on how many students there are with a specific instrument major or what kinds of productions student groups are currently carrying out.  As a result, the content of the teaching given may vary each year, even though the amount of instruction stays the same.

Because the collective agreement for universities did not offer solutions that would have taken these special characteristics of the arts into consideration, the employer and employee party set out to develop a locally applicable solution together.“The purpose of the negotiations was to recognise, clarify and standardise the position of hourly-paid teachers in the arts in relation to other university staff members. As a representative of the employees, I’m happy with the good atmosphere and the result of the negotiations, which is a good start for the long-awaited improvement in the status of hourly-paid teachers from the employee perspective at Uniarts Helsinki,” says Uniarts Helsinki’s chief shop steward Minna Orpana.