Memorandum of the Dean's Office on the Situation of Freelance Instructors at the Münster University of Music
The freelance instructors at the University of Music perform an important and highly qualified task which benefits the education of our students. Many freelance instructors have worked here for years and earn a considerable portion of their income from their teaching assignments at the University.
In contrast to our full-time academic staff, freelance instructors have practically no legal claim to employment-related entitlements or benefits. The Dean’s Office is fully aware of its responsibility to consider the interests of its freelance instructors.
In December 2017, the University of Music issued a declaration of intent which offers freelance instructors a career perspective on one hand, while also affirming its commitment to maintain and continue strengthening a respectful working atmosphere and a strong, productive collaboration between all teaching staff and the University administration.
The memorandum issued by the Dean’s Office and the freelance instructors addressing this situation is available here as a PDF download [de].
Openness, respect, helpfulness, and mutual understanding create the basis for an atmosphere of cooperation between all employees and instructors of the Münster University of Music. The individuality, personality and achievements of our students, instructors and fellow colleagues are respected by all parties. This mutual respect enables all members of the University of Music to feel like a community and identify with their respective responsibilities. The instructors employed at the University perform important and highly qualified work – also in the core modules and major subjects – and thereby significantly contribute to the education of our students.
Many freelance instructors have worked for years at the University of Music and earn a considerable portion of their income through their teaching activities here. However, in contrast to our full-time academic staff, freelance instructors have practically no legal claim to employment-related benefits, e.g. permanent employment contracts, guaranteed employment after the birth of a child, notice periods, protection against dismissal, as well as other protections normally afforded to employees as mandated by law. The Dean’s Office is fully aware of its responsibility to consider the interests of freelance instructors. The following memorandum of intent aims to provide freelance instructors a career perspective and affirms our commitment to maintain and continue strengthening a respectful working atmosphere and strong, productive collaboration between all teaching staff and the University administration. All the endorsed measures herein are subject to their compliance with legal regulations and do not serve as the basis for obligations or claims.
The Dean's Office has agreed to serve as the representative contact partner. Queries by email are answered as soon as possible by the Dean’s Office, and bindingly if desired. The Dean’s Office shall present this memorandum in its present form to all currently employed and future freelance instructors of the University of Music.
2. Teaching assignments and termination procedures, obligations, committee work
a) Teaching assignments and termination procedures
New teaching assignments are awarded in accordance with a public appointment procedure with a formal call for applications. The call for applications requires the approval of the Faculty Board. To prevent the interruption of instruction, the Dean’s Office is permitted to directly award teaching assignments at short notice in exceptional cases.
Teaching assignments are generally awarded for one academic year. Confirmation of subsequent teaching assignments should be granted early, i.e. at least one month prior to the start of the lecture period. The representatives of the freelance instructors have the right to participate in the teaching assignment planning process.
In agreement with the respective freelance instructor, the Dean’s Office strives to set the number of hours of instruction per week (SWS) for each teaching assignment as high as possible (max. 10 hours per week for artistic freelance instructors, and 8 hours per week for academic freelance instructors), and so doing, enable freelance instructors to more strongly identify with the University of Music. With respect to the number of SWS awarded to freelance instructors, the Dean’s Office pledges to avoid larger cutbacks, i.e. reductions of more than 25 % compared with the previous academic year. If such fluctuations cannot be avoided, the Dean’s Office will seek to engage in discussion with the affected freelance instructor as early as possible.
The number of students allowed to participate in a course is determined in agreement with the respective subject group to ensure that the course can be conducted in a reasonable manner. If the Dean’s Office and subject group (or freelance instructor) cannot agree on a satisfactory class size, the Faculty Board is responsible for deciding the matter.
Provided that sufficient capacity is available, ample-sized rooms will be provided for conducting courses. When assigning rooms, professors and freelance instructors are to be treated equally. Should a freelance instructor voice criticism to the Dean’s Office, the Dean’s Office shall discuss the matter with the freelance instructor directly. A reasonable amount of time should be granted to allow the respective parties to rectify the points of criticism. Before a teaching contract is terminated, the Dean’s Office must meet with the respective freelance instructor to discuss the matter. The freelance instructor may request a representative of the freelance instructors to accompany him/her to the meeting. Termination of teaching contracts must be delivered and substantiated in written form.
b) Obligations of teaching assignments
The teaching assignment obligates the freelance instructor to provide instruction for the specified course(s) which includes the necessary preparation, individual guidance and participation in examinations. Artistic teaching assignments also obligates the freelance instructor to participate in conferences.
The time required to fulfil one’s examination obligations should be proportional to the total workload of the teaching assignment.
c) Participation in university life
The Dean’s Office expressly desires that freelance instructors actively participate in university life.
If a freelance instructor performs work for the University of Music beyond the scope of their teaching contract, appropriate remuneration can be offered to the respective instructor by means of a fee agreement.
3. Support for freelance instructors who must temporarily suspend their teaching assignment for personal reasons
If a freelance instructor is forced to suspend his/her teaching assignment on account of familial circumstances (e.g. birth of a child, care of a family member etc.) or for health reasons, he/she shall be offered the possibility of resuming the teaching assignment after the interruption, provided that there is a continued need and the respective qualification can be guaranteed. The freelance instructor must inform the Dean’s Office of the interruption and its anticipated duration in advance.
Freelance instructors who take over the teaching assignments of other freelance instructors on temporary leave must be informed that their teaching assignment is only short-term and shall last for the duration of the other lecturer’s leave of absence. When the freelance instructor resumes his/her teaching assignment, the number of hours is to be determined by the Dean’s Office in consultation with the freelance instructor based on the required need.
The following regulations applies to freelance instructors in the subject “Correpetition”:
Instructors in the major subject are to communicate their needs to their cooperating correpetitors at the beginning of the semester. Organisational matters (e.g. examination dates, class evenings, postponed events etc.) are to be discussed in a timely manner. The allocation of correpetition is coordinated by the subject group representatives in consultation with the correpetitors / head of the correpetition department. Correpetitors are to be assigned in such a way to ensure that classes may continue uninterrupted.
The coordinators should ensure that correpetitors are not assigned too many classes or too many different instruments. If this should be necessary, the coordinator should discuss the matter with the respective correpetitor in advance. The time required for accompanying courses, participating in appointment procedures etc. should be proportional to the freelance instructor’s number of hours of instruction per week (SWS).
Holding courses, accompanying examinations and participating in appointment procedures during lecture-free periods and school holidays should only be required of freelance instructors in exceptional cases.
Instructors in the major subject and correpetitors should regularly communicate and discuss any problems as they arise. Should an instructor in a major subject have reason to criticise a correpetitor, he/she should discuss the matter directly with the correpetitor. A reasonable amount of time should be granted to allow the respective parties to rectify the points of criticism. If the problems persist, the Dean’s Office is obliged to take up the matter.
5. Usage of the University infrastructure, support of freelance instructors by the University of Music, liability
Freelance instructors are entitled to use the University infrastructure in order to perform their teaching assignments and related activities. They are permitted to use the following equipment at no charge:
copy machines for making copies of teaching materials
technical devices (including Internet, WiFi) and instruments in the classrooms
the library of the University of Music
the parking spaces of the University of Music
The Dean’s Office pledges to support the networking activities of freelance instructors to the best of its ability (providing an updated email list of the freelance instructors, making suitable rooms available for meetings etc.). Freelance instructors are insured against third-party damages by the employer’s liability insurance of the WWU (see no. 2.5 in the “Guidelines for Granting and Remunerating Teaching Assignments at the University of Münster”) if these damages were caused as a result of carrying out the duties of their teaching assignment. Freelance instructors are not allowed to provide private instruction in the rooms of the University of Music.
6. Conflict resolution, evaluation of the memorandum
The Dean’s Office declares its intent to constructively address criticism of the conditions and processes of the University of Music which are appropriately raised by freelance instructors, and that no freelance instructor should suffer disadvantages as a result of expressing criticism.
For disputes which fall within the scope of competence of the University of Münster (WWU), the Dean’s Office will advocate for applying the guidelines of conduct provided here in this memorandum. This memorandum shall be reviewed by the Dean’s Office and the representative of the freelance instructors every two years and amended if needed upon joint agreement. Fundamental changes require the approval of the Faculty Board.