A former BBC foreign correspondent has expressed on Twitter her dissatisfaction with the University of Exeter’s employability department. Lara Pawson, now a freelance writer, visited Exeter on Thursday 14 May to give two talks at the University.
Speaking to Exeposé, Pawson states that she originally contacted Dr. Ana Martins, of the Modern Languages Department, about giving a lecture on her new book In the Name of the People. Pawson had her travel expenses and lunch paid by the department.
Pawson was then contacted, through Dr. Martins, by the Employability Department, which asked if she could also give a careers talk whilst at Exeter. She claims she asked for payment but “the department said there wasn’t a budget”.
Pawson agreed to give an unscripted lecture on journalism anyway which “around 60 students” attended.
She said: “If employability is such a big part of Exeter’s selling point, they ought to budget for it and pay people to give proper talks.”
On 21 May Pawson quoted in a tweet the response she received from the department, having asked Dr.Martins if payment would be possible given the popularity of her careers talk. The department replied: “We have a policy that the College do not pay visiting speakers for employability.”
Her tweet was accompanied with the hashtag ‘teaching students to work for free’.
Pawson added: “I was speaking to students about how to earn a living , yet ironically the Employability Department doesn’t think it’s worth paying me. What message does that give the students? That you’re supposed to work for free?”
Rachel Wheeler, Assistant College Manager for the College of Humanities said: “The College would not normally pay a fee for events such as this and there was no agreement to pay a fee ahead of the event. However, it appears there was a misunderstanding and we apologise if that may be the case.”
Flora Carr, Features Editor