This branch notes:
- UCU’s decision to call on “the government and universities to switch to fully online teaching as the default for the duration of next term” (Jo Grady, UCU General Secretary, email to members of 29.8.20);
- UCU’s advice that “A number of UCU branches have already called on their employer to withdraw as much face-to-face teaching and other activities as possible and we are now encouraging all branches to push their employer to take this approach” (Jo Grady email as above);
- The report of the Independent SAGE group of experts, led by Sir David King, the former Scientific Adviser to the government, advising universities against resuming face-to-face teaching because risks of infection are too high and the view of the SAGE group of experts, that all HE institutions should expect to have cases of COVID-19 and it is highly likely that some HE providers and relevant local health agencies will have to manage the consequences of a significant outbreak; and
- The following risk factors: (a) the high rates of infection among the young who are typically asymptomatic if infected; (b) the rising UK-wide infection rates; (c) the country-wide risks of infection as one million students travel to campuses and occupy halls of residence; (d) the enhanced health risks of infection to older staff and BAME staff and students, and their families; and (e) the fact that Birmingham is currently in a local lockdown.
This Branch believes:
- That it is not currently safe for staff and students to resume face-to-face teaching in Semester 1 for the reasons stated above; and
- That teaching in Semester 1 should therefore be restricted to online learning (except where there are compelling pedagogical reasons to the contrary, such as practical work, assuming rigorous health and safety standards).
This Branch therefore resolves:
- To call on UoB management to adopt a default position in favour of online learning; and
- To call on UoB management to abandon plans for face-to-face teaching in Semester 1 (except where there are compelling pedagogical reasons to the contrary, such as practical work, assuming rigorous health and safety standards).
- To instruct BUCU committee to enter into a dispute with the University of Birmingham if the University senior management refuse to the above two calls, or fail to reply to these by Friday 18 September.
- To move immediately to hold a ballot (action short of strike) to refuse all face-to-face teaching, and to continue to only work from home where that was the case during lockdown, until UCU is convinced that plans for a return to on-campus teaching and working are safe.
Resolution adopted 17 September 2020.