Several universities of applied sciences pay their teachers too little.
Several universities of applied sciences pay their teachers too little.

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HBO teachers underpaid: unions consider legal action

In several dozen vacancies for higher vocational education teachers, universities of applied sciences offer too low a salary. The AOb sees this too and is considering legal action with the other unions. The Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (VH) will once again bring the collective labor agreement agreements to the attention of administrators.

Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences is looking for a communication teacher. 'You are an expert in communication and you have a relevant education at an academic level', says the vacancy. The offered salary scale: 10.

Strange

That is strange, because it goes against the agreements in the HBO collective agreement. It states: 'Recruiting employees at master level means deploying employees at master level, which means scaling in at master level, so also scaling in at minimum wage scale 11.'

Lecturer is not a protected title, but the collective labor agreement does contain an overview of the various positions and the associated pay scales. Teachers are not listed in scale 10. They should be at least in scale 11, otherwise they are basically 'instructors'.

Teachers should be at least in scale 11, otherwise they are actually instructors

Nevertheless, the universities of applied sciences are recruiting dozens of teachers in scale 10, according to the vacancies on werkbijhogescholen.nl Their way of adhering to the collective labor agreements: they ask applicants to have HBO level instead of Master's level.

'Completed HBO education'

Another example. Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences is recruiting a Dutch teacher. Salary scale: maximum 10. 'You have at least a completed HBO education relevant to the vacancy, such as: Dutch language and culture, teacher of Dutch, or communication sciences.' Two of those programs are university.

The same goes for other vacancies. Leiden University of Applied Sciences is looking for a teacher of social sciences for the higher professional education law program who has to develop and innovate education. The requirement in the vacancy is HBO level and the corresponding salary scale is 10.

Saxion University of Applied Sciences has a job for an English teacher at HBO or WO level, but the salary scale is already known: 10. The same happens at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, which is looking for an aviation teacher, also at HBO or WO level.

Legal action

“We've looked at it before, we see the same thing,” says AOb- director HBO Douwe van der Zweep. The unions are considering legal action, he says. "It is not in accordance with the collective labor agreement, it is not good policy, we have to tackle it."

AOb- director Van der Zweep: 'It is not in accordance with the collective labor agreement, it is not good policy, we have to tackle it'

The difference between scale 10 and 11 is whether you develop education, he says. A teacher or instructor in scale 10 is someone who carries out the education that someone else has devised. A HBO teacher in scale 11 is responsible for the subject or part of the curriculum.

Formally, you can ask for HBO level and offer scale 10, but then it must correspond to the content of the position. “An academically trained cleaner continues to be classified at scale 1 or 2,” says Van der Zweep, because that is part of that position. Conversely, a higher professional education teacher with or without a master's degree can go to scale 11 if he is responsible for educational development.

“We are in talks with the institutions in several places, but we also think that the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences is doing too little,” he says. “The question now is which is best: are we going to pursue individual cases or are we taking legal action against the employers' association?”

'We are in discussions with the institutions in several places, but we also think that the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences is doing too little'

Large salary differences

The VH states in a written response that its members take the collective labor agreements seriously. 'Where the position to be recruited is not properly scaled, for whatever reason, this will be corrected.'

Universities of applied sciences are working on internal communication to ensure that managers within the domains and study programs are 'well aware of the collective labor agreement' that has been made. 'In addition, the VH will request extra attention at the administrative level for this collective labor agreement by drawing the attention of all executive boards to this once again.'

In November 2019, six months before the current collective labor agreement was concluded, the Higher Education Press Agency reported that some universities of applied sciences pay their teachers significantly less well than others. Leiden University of Applied Sciences caught the eye: almost half of all teaching staff there are in scale 10. At Avans, The Hague University of Applied Sciences and Windesheim, that percentage remained below ten percent.

Complaints Committee

Lecturers can go to the objections committee of their university of applied sciences if they feel that they have been classified too low, says Van der Zweep, possibly with the help of the trade union. “That committee is accessible, free and specially intended for this.”

Read also: HBO teacher wants to pay for work from the Education Magazine. All members of the AOb receive the magazine in the letterbox every month. Become a member and receive the magazine. 

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