On Monday this week the new code of practice on lecture capture and recording ‘went live’ and was released to all staff. This document has been drafted without input or consultation from staff or the recognised trade union, and was shared with us ‘for information’ only.
Previously, Birmingham UCU has registered serious concerns over intellectual property rights, the impact on student attendance, and the use of Panopto in disciplinary proceedings against staff. We are also increasingly concerned about the lack of assurances over the use of recordings in overseas deliveries in Dubai without their explicit consent; in particular, where staff are unable to travel due to issues of LGBTQ rights, or where they have been made redundant.
The new code of practice replaces the previous code on lecture capture. None of the concerns on the above issues, that have been repeatedly raised by both BUCU and staff as part of the broader consultation, have been considered in the latest release, and the clause on intellectual property rights still reads:
“University owns the intellectual property in the content of lectures and other teaching sessions and is also the owner of the intellectual property in any recordings made by it or on its behalf.”
Speak out (if you can)
Staff can claim performance rights over any video or audio content produced in which we appear, which means that we can ask for such content to be removed or not to be used in certain circumstances (for example in Dubai or in place of colleague who have been made redundant). BUCU therefore encourages anyone who is uncomfortable over the use of their content to put this in writing.
However, performance rights do not normally extend to how our lecture slides or other written materials may be used unless we can successfully influence the University’s policies.
*Why this means we must vote in the current HE pay dispute*
What is especially worrying here is not just the flawed content of these new policies and changes, but the way in which they are now routinely announced without consultation. In September, BUCU also expressed concern at new policies and processes around marking deadlines and feedback, which were similarly announced without any consultation by the Pro Vice Chancellor for Education, Kathleen Armour. We have written to the University to request regular meetings and a more constructive dialogue.
This trend also fits in with a broader lack of engagement from management with the campus trade unions (BUCU, UNISON, UNITE and GMB) in recent months. In the latest negotiations the University again refused to pay the living wage or to take any serious action to address gender inequality, which, with a 20% gender pay gap, is currently one of the worst pay gaps of any large organisation in the country.
The trade unions are also being routinely ignored when advising the University of its duties under employment law towards casual and precarious workers. We have seen a sharp increase in staff being aggressively managed out since the result of the local dispute in February, and concerns over discrimination of women and BME staff in the latest round of redundancies have so far been dismissed out of hand.
We therefore have a collective responsibility to absolutely ensure that 50% of staff vote in the current HE pay dispute: for a better deal on pay; to hold the University to specific actions to improve equality, casualisation and workload; and to show our University that we will not stand by as our colleagues are discriminated against, bullied out, and have their rights in law routinely disregarded.
If you’ve misplaced your ballot, request a replacement ballot today!