Hiring & Appointments: Sessionals

Sessional Lecturers Appointment Types

Sessional hiring practices are governed by Part 7: Conditions of Appointment for Sessional Lecturers. Sessional hiring happens in three stages according to the sessionals’ employment status at the University. There are three types of status: Continuing, Non-Continuing and Initial Appointment.

Continuing sessionals are long serving employees who have earned the right to a specific course entitlement and credit load. Non-Continuing sessionals are existing employees who have yet to achieve continuing status. These members have the right to reappointment to 1 course per academic year (July 1st to June 30th). There is no ongoing right to specific courses. Members in their initial or first appointment are new sessionals at UBC. If they are successful in their first assignment and are re-appointed they will earn the right of reappointment as non-continuing sessionals.

Sessional Lecturers Hiring Process

The process by which courses are distributed to sessional lecturer is as follows:

  1. After course assignments have been given to tenure-track and tenured faculty members and Lecturers, your Department Head assigns courses to Continuing Sessionals to meet their individual course load entitlements.
  2. Your Department Head then reviews the remaining courses and designates a pool of courses to be offered to non-continuing and new sessionals.
  3. The courses in the “Sessional Pool” are then distributed to non-continuing sessionals such that each member is assigned to teach at least one course. Article 6, Part 7: Conditions of Appointment for Sessional Lecturers sets out the criteria by which these assignments are made.
  4. Next, any remaining sessional courses must be posted publicly and assigned to sessionals with less than a full time load and to applicants according to a fair competitive process. Part 7: Conditions of Appointment for Sessional Lecturers specifies how courses and appointments are assigned, with qualifications, experience, and performance being the three primary factors which must be weighed. Length of service is considered when all else is equal.

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 Lecturers. Positions are generally for four or eight months, and may be either part-time or full-time.

Appointments generally begin on the first day of class each September and January and run for 4 months, ending at the end of the exam-month (December or April). Summer-teaching appointments are also available in many departments. These are typically compressed courses which run for 4 to 6 weeks between May and the beginning of August.

Sessional Faculty: Types of Appointments

Sessional Compensation and Benefits

The Collective Agreement sets out a minimum salary scale for sessional lecturers. This is the floor for salaries, but not the ceiling. You are free to discuss your salary with the hiring department. Your offer letter may resemble this template letter. Many of the terms in this letter may be negotiated.

The minimum salary scale is based on the number of credits considered a full-time load in each faculty. These range from 6 credits per term in Architecture to 15 credits per term in Education. If you have any questions about how many credits you have been assigned please contact the Faculty Association and one of our Membership Services Representatives will be happy to review your appointment.

Full-Time Load Standard: By Faculty (Sept- April)

Sessionals with an appointment of at least 50% full time load and for at least 4 months are eligible for the following:


Sessionals with an appointment of less than 50% or less than 4 months are eligible for the following:

-Sessionals Less than 50%

Sessionals only have rights to benefits while actively employed at UBC. If you wish to maintain your benefits at your own expense between appointments (including the weeks between Winter and Summer session), you must fill out a “leave of absence” form with the Leave of Absence (LOA) Office. You should be provided a copy of this form prior to the end of your current contract if you do not have a new contract already in place. If you do not receive this form please contact the LOA Office or UBC Benefits.

Sessional Lecturers Continuing Status

If you teach the equivalent of thirty-six (36) full-time months in a six-year (6) period, you are granted “continuing status” – which provides a greater degree of job security. In calculating your eligibility, all UBC teaching (including evening and summer courses) should be counted, not only that achieved in any one Department or Faculty. If you think you have or will soon achieve “continuing status,” contact Faculty Relations. or, if you’re at our Okanagan Campus, contact Human Resources.

Continuing Status entitles the faculty member to reappointment each year to at least the same course load and percentage of full-time as he/she worked in the two winter sessions of the year before they earned continuing status. For example, if you taught 2 courses in the September term and 3 courses in the January term, your continuing entitlement would be to 5 courses over the academic year regardless of how many courses you taught in the summer session.

In addition to a more stable employment status, Continuing sessionals also have additional rights and benefits. For example, Continuing sessionals earn $1100 in professional development funds each year and have the right to be assigned courses at the same time and in the same process as their tenured and tenure-track colleagues in the Department. Continuing sessionals 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 lecturer.

Sessional Lecturer FAQs

Q: What is the difference between a continuing and a non-continuing sessional?

A continuing sessional is one who has accumulated 36 full-time equivalent months of teaching at UBC. Continuing Status provides a sessional with an ongoing right to an appointment of a specified number of credits. A non-continuing sessional has not yet achieved this landmark. A non-continuing sessional only has the right to 1 course per academic year.

Q: Do I have to apply for continuing status?

No. You should automatically be converted to a continuing sessional once you have accrued your 36 months of full-time equivalent seniority (Link to information on the UBC HR site). However, it is a good idea to keep track of your progress so that you can contact Faculty Relations if this conversion does not take place when you have calculated that it should. 

Q: If I am only a part-time sessional, am I eligible for more work?

Yes. If courses become available in your department after the initial assignments have been made that you are qualified to teach, they should be offered to you and other part-time faculty in your department before any new sessionals are hired. You do not have rights to work above a full time load.

Q: What is a full-time load for a sessional lecturer at UBC?

At UBC, a full-time load is determined faculty by faculty, and ranges from two courses (6 credits) a semester to five courses (15 credits) a semester.

Q: I am a full-time sessional lecturer, but only for part of the year. How can I get a longer contract?

At any time, you may approach the Head of your department and ask to be considered for a lecturer appointment (full-time for 12 months/year) instead of a sessional lecturer appointment (full-time for less than 12 months/year). You may also apply for any such positions that become available in your department. All such positions should be posted at least internally.

Q: Is it possible to advance from year-to-year contracts with UBC to permanent employment?

A full-time permanent teaching-oriented position does exist at UBC and is known as an Instructor. An instructor’s duties are teaching, educational leadership and service. An Instructor is a tenure-track appointment of three years after which the person is considered for promotion to Senior Instructor. If promotion is granted, tenure is automatic. All such permanent, full-time positions that become available at UBC must be posted both internally and externally. You are welcome to apply for any such positions for which you are qualified. You may also encourage your Head to consider petitioning the Dean for more Instructor positions in your department if it is clear that sessional lecturers are being hired year after year to perform core teaching duties, rather than just as temporary employees for sabbatical replacement, parental leaves, and sick leaves.

Q: Should I or Must I Be Evaluated?

Sessional lecturers should be evaluated regularly. Evaluations should assess your entire teaching performance and be based on command over the subject matter, familiarity with recent developments in the field, preparedness, presentation, accessibility to students and influence on the intellectual and scholarly development of students. They should not be based on popularity of the instructor. Open, consistent, and regular evaluation-processes are vital to your reappointment and job-security. These procedures, however, do vary by Department. If you would like an evaluation and none has yet been performed, enquire with your Department Head or administrator.

Q: What if my appointment is cancelled, or I am not reappointed?

Sessional lecturers who are not reappointed maintain their length of service for 24 months. Those whose workload drops from above 50% to below 50% are also entitled to maintain full benefits for 24 months. If a course is cancelled within a month of its planned start-date, a sessional lecturer is entitled to $300.

Q: When and how do I get paid?

Paychecks are distributed twice monthly (the 15th and the last business day of the month), starting at the end of the first two weeks of your appointment. They may be picked up at Financial Services (3rd floor, General Services Administration Building) or deposited directly into your bank account. To arrange automatic deposit, visit Financial Services to complete the necessary paperwork. Sessional faculty are not paid for preparation-time before courses begin. Sessional lecturers ARE paid a small fee if their course is cancelled with less than one month’s notice or if their exams are scheduled less than 36 hours before the end of the exam-period.

Q: How much should I be paid?

There are no upper salary limits for sessional lecturers, but there is a minimum salary scale which must be followed. The scale is based on years of experience and percentage of full-time for each appointment. Sessionals may hold different appointments from different departments simultaneously; total load and total experience should be considered for determining your salary and benefits.

Please NOTE: any department is always free to pay you MORE than the minimum scale.

Q: What if my paycheck is wrong?

Payroll information passes through a number of offices: your department, the Dean’s office, the President’s office, payroll (Financial Services), in that order. If you need to track a problem with your documentation for any reason, remember to check with each step of the process. For problems with payroll, contact the Payroll DepartmentHow your job offer turns into a paycheque

Q: Who is Responsible for….

Q: What benefits are available to sessional lecturers?

Please see the description above. Benefits vary according to employment status, i.e. 50% or higher vs. under 50%, continuing or non-continuing. Please read the following carefully to determine which provisions apply to you. Also note: Benefits are only provided while you are a UBC employee; during months when you are not on-contract, you may arrange to continue benefits coverage by paying the full cost of the premiums yourself.


Basic MSP premiums are paid by individual faculty members. Faculty with an under-50% appointment split the cost of extended health premiums 50% – 50% with the employer; faculty with an appointment of 50% or higher have their extended health premiums paid 100% by the University. You are not required to pay the basic health premium through UBC in order to register for extended coverage.

Extended health benefits cover ambulance fees, out-of-province emergency care, prostheses, vision care, oral contraceptives, orthotics, hearing aids, massage/ physiotherapy, acupuncture/chiropractor/speech pathologist services and more. Your UBC health plan card (issued by Sunlife) provides at-the-counter-deduction of the covered portion (typically 80%) of eligible prescription drugs.


As with extended medical benefits, faculty with a 50% appointment split the cost of premiums with the University, while faculty with an appointment of 50% or higher have all premiums paid. Between appointments, you may arrange to pay your own premiums to maintain coverage. Coverage of services is as follows:

  • Plan A (Basic) –100%
  • Plan B (major restorative) –70%
  • Plan C (orthodontics) – 65% (to a lifetime maximum of $3000 per person)

Employee and Family Assistance

A self-referred, confidential program from counseling and advocacy exists at UBC. For assistance, call Interlock at 604.431.8200 or 1.800.663.9099.

Life Insurance

Basic insurance is provided by the University; additional, optional, and self-paid life insurance is available through a group plan.

Tuition Waiver

Tuition waivers are available to sessionals with an appointment of 50% or higher, and their dependents, during the course of an appointment. For details, call 604.822.6565.

Sick Leave

You are entitled to 5 days of short-term sick leave and up to six months of long-term paid leave. Sick leave does not extend beyond the term of your appointment.

An Income Replacement Plan (premiums paid 100% by employees) provides long-term disability benefits after paid sick leave is exhausted.

Maternity, Parental and Adoption Leave

Benefits are available according to Employment Insurance guidelines, with some provisions for additional UBC ‘top-up’ benefits up to 95% of salary during times when you are on-contract. UBC may not deny you future contracts should you be expecting a child.


Sessional lecturers with an appointment of 50% or greater can join the UBC Faculty Pension Plan, in which a 5% contribution by the member is matched with a 10% contribution by the University. You may back-date enrolment to the beginning of the current calendar year, provided you were a UBC employee at that time. You may also maintain enrollment between appointments by keeping up a minimum contribution. The pension is fully portable. This benefit is effective at the beginning of your first contract, and it allows you to add 10% to the salary UBC affords you.

Professional Development

Continuing sessionals are entitled to $1100 per year PD reimbursement, which may be banked for up to three years. These funds may be used for books or other teaching materials, conference travel, computer-supplies, research materials and the like.

Non-continuing sessionals are entitled to reimbursement of $25 per credit per calendar year. Any unused balance at the end of the year will be added to the entitlement for the next year to a maximum of two years.

For more information on PD funds and to download the Professional Development Reimbursement form, visit http://www.hr.ubc.ca/faculty-relations/compensation/professional-development-reimbursement-fund/

Q: Where can I find additional instructional resources?

Instructional Skills Workshops, designed to enhance teaching skills, are run by the Centre for Teaching and Learning Technologies (CTLT). All sessional faculty are eligible, and the programs are free of charge. A/V and IT equipment is provided by the IT or AV office in the building in which your class meets; you need to contact them directly to book equipment for your classes. For information on multimedia, research-labs to support teaching, or website development, contact IT Services Support and Services Desk in the Koerner Library. CTLT also offers courses in WebCT Vista, PowerPoint and other instructional technologies.