http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/magazine/graphics/mastheads/mast_blank.gifUnpaid research posts represent the latest step in the 'proletarianisation' of the academy, argues Ross Perlin
Recent graduates - those who can afford to, anyway - resign themselves to months of unpaid interning, treading water in the labour market. The jobless, thanks to the government's controversial workfare schemes, are pressed into uncompensated service in a modern version of Lenin's all-Russia subbotniks. Meanwhile, those fortunate enough to be employed in paid work fearfully contribute a collective 2 billion hours of unpaid overtime to their employers every year.
Now the employment practices of higher education have come under the spotlight. First was the University of Birmingham, which blithely sought an "honorary" unpaid research assistant to work at least two days a week on a "voluntary basis". Then it was University College London and the Anna Freud Centre, where researchers had the temerity to advertise for a research assistant intern based at UCL, full-time or part-time, unpaid for six months.