Sessional faculty are hired primarily to teach courses, though they may also perform administrative service and are often encouraged to invest in professional and intellectual development (for instance, sessionals are eligible to apply for federal research-funds and can access professional-development funds). Sessional faculty are in charge of their own courses and are usually finished their graduate degrees or very close to completion.
Sessional faculty appointments fall into two main types: “Over 50%” and “Under 50%”. The percentage describes how close an appointment is to the designated full-time load in a given faculty. A sessional may be hired to teach a single course or a slate of courses in any one term or appointment. Course-loads over 50% of “full time” give sessional faculty access to a different range of benefits than course-loads falling under 50% of full-time. Sessional faculty may also hold appointments in more than one department, unit, or even institution at a time; the accumulated total course-load at UBC determines whether a sessional is over or under a 50% appointment.
Full-Time Load Standard: By Faculty (Sept – April)
Key Procedures and Processes
Available sessional positions at UBC must be posted publicly by the program, unit, or department that is hiring. Anyone may apply and should be considered. Departments must advertise the requirements and procedures for hiring, most of which are governed by the rules of Part 7: Conditions of Appointment for Sessional Faculty Members. Positions are usually for four or eight months, and may be either part-time or full-time.
Appointments generally begin September 1st or January 1st and end at the finish of the exam-month (December or April). Summer-teaching appointments are also available in many departments. Part 7: Conditions of Appointment for Sessional Faculty Members specifies how appointments should be assigned, with qualifications, experience, seniority and performance being the four factors which must be weighed. An official Letter of Appointment from the UBC President’s Office often takes time to arrive and does not specify a place on the salary or experience-scale. Sessionals should insist upon a formal letter of offer from the department or unit when accepting an assignment, and should request that the letter spell out course-load and placement on the minimum salary scale.
Sessional faculty are appointed on four to eight-month renewable contracts. A sessional can expect to be reappointed subject to:
- teaching performance;
- availability of courses or sections.
Sessional faculty also have the right to first consideration for additional work that becomes available, subject to qualifications. All available sessional positions must be posted. Ask the department where postings are located, and check back regularly for additional employment opportunities.
How Continuing Status is Acquired
If a sessional teaches the equivalent of thirty-six full-time months in a six-year period, they are eligible for “continuing status” – which provides additional benefits. In calculating eligibility, all UBC teaching (including evening and summer courses) should be counted, not only that achieved in any one department or faculty. Sessionals who think they have or will soon achieve “continuing status,” should inquire with Faculty Relations or, at our Okanagan Campus, contact Human Resources.
A Continuing Appointment entitles a sessional to earn additional benefits (i.e. an annual professional development reimbursement entitlement). Continuing sessional faculty also have the right to be assigned courses at the same time and in the same process as their professorial colleagues in the Department. Continuing faculty whose appointments are not renewed due to cancellation or lack of funding are entitled to severance pay or recall rights – the choice belongs entirely to the sessional faculty member.
Sessionals who have further questions about appointments can contact the Association.