An infographic with facts about Academic Teaching staff, including the fact that they teach the same courses with the same qualifications but are maid much less, with a pay gap over 57 per cent.

The University of Alberta (U of A) relies on Academic Teaching Staff (ATS) to teach roughly half of all courses. Unlike their Faculty Member counterparts, ATS have little to no job security, are paid up to 57% less, and often don’t get benefits. 

If you’ve ever registered for a course where BearTracks says the instructor is TBA, it’s likely because an ATS member is waiting to find out whether they’ve been hired to teach it. ATS’ uncertain teaching conditions affect the learning experience they can provide to students.  

As the U of A’s budget has been slashed, ATS have been forced to work more to fill in the gaps, and they aren’t the only U of A academic staff members on precarious contracts. 

There are nearly 100 Temporary Librarian, Administrative, and Professional Officers (TLAPO), whose contracts mean they must work at least six years at full-time to secure permanent employment. 

There are also over 400 Trust/Research Academic Staff (TRAS) whose appointments solely depend on external funding, even though around half of them have been employed at the U of A for six or more years. 

Educators and researchers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Job security and fair working conditions create the best learning experience possible and help to protect the U of A’s world-class education. 

AASUA is working with our precarious members to share their experiences, and the impact of precarity on teaching and learning at the U of A. You can find some of their words below.


A woman stands in front of a classroom, with the quote -- Applying for my job every year is 'like a lottery ... a hodgepodge system that continually disadvantages people, frequently women and minorities.'

For employment to be fair, we need a system where qualifications and credentials are valued and reflected in consistent ways. 

Half of the courses at the U of A are taught by ATS, but many students don’t know the instructors they depend on are often without supports. 

On March 1, ATS members met and shared how precarious work impacts their mental health and wellbeing. 

These AASUA members are ready to be heard — they deserve fair and equitable employment and should not be kept on precarious contracts that impact their quality of life, and ultimately, the learning experience they can deliver. 


A man is lecturing a class in front of a library, with the text 'as the university promotes its strategic plan to grow, where is that going to come from? ... On the backs of [contract staff] who are precariously employed.

One ATS member highlighted the principles and goals outlined by administration through the University of Alberta for Tomorrow vision

The plan includes an “enhanced student experience,” in addition to expanded enrolment by 2026. While the Employer is set on growth, precarious labour is an unsustainable way to get there.    

Instead, we need university administration to provide secure, ongoing ATS appointments. 

The future of the U of A shouldn’t rest on the shoulders of those who are asked to shoulder a high volume of work without adequate supports or a stable contract. We can tell the U of A that students, instructors, and researchers deserve better.



A woman sits at a desk in front of a library of books with the text 'I don't want to leave the University of Alberta — I love the students, but it's hard not to consider going elsewhere when your experience and awards are not counted.

One ATS member shared that they are almost ready to walk away from the U of A, because they’re getting more respect teaching in a post-secondary institution in the US. They shared they “can’t support themselves” in this precarious situation much longer. 

“Other contract staff are going to find opportunities like I have, and there’s going to be a massive brain drain from the U of A in terms of instructors with experience.”

The U of A can’t retain instructors and researchers while stringing them along on short-term contracts.

Precarity is forcing the U of A’s experienced instructors to make difficult decisions about where to go next. We need fair employment if we want to keep their talent at the U of A and maintain the top-notch education the institution is known for.