Bristol Uni UCU staff demand Senate votes on moving teaching online for rest of TB1

They have officially requested that Senate debate a motion to move online

Members of Senate at Bristol Uni have sent a letter at the request of the UCU to Vice Chancellor Hugh Brady this morning to force a Senate vote to move the University completely online until after Christmas.

According to the letter, obtained by The Bristol Tab, staff want Senate (the University governing body) to debate the motion: “This University resolves online teaching should be the institutional default for Teaching Block 1”.

This request intensifies the fight between staff and the University. Earlier this month, the University rejected staff demands to move completely online, and the UCU is now consulting with staff over whether they would be prepared to take industrial action, which may include strikes.

The full text of the letter reveals that 22 Members of Senate have requested the meeting, which is two more Members than the minimum of 20.

A spokesperson for Bristol Uni has confirmed that a meeting of Senate will be scheduled, and the date will be confirmed “soon”.

Members wrote that they “look forward to this special meeting of Senate summoned on the earliest convenient day.”

The full text of the letter sent to VC Hugh Brady

Under statute 20 of Senate rules, a meeting of Senate on a proposed motion can be called if 20 members send a request.

Under the same statute, the Chair (normally the VC) can postpone a scheduled meeting of Senate “in exceptional circumstances e.g. COVID-19 emergency”, which would theoretically enable him to move the debate until it is no longer relevant.

However, the UCU said that it wouldn’t be “the VC’s finest hour if he tried to avoid a debate. And was seen to be doing so.”

Serious concerns have been raised by academics across the University regarding the rise in Covid cases, with over five per cent of the student body and 0.5 per cent of staff already confirmed to have had the Covid.

In a press conference earlier today, Bristol’s Director of Public Health Christina Gray expressed concern at the rising cases among 30-60 year olds, blaming household mixing and lower levels of compliance with restrictions.

While announcing a rise to a brand new Tier 1+, she added: “I can’t fault the universities” for the rise in cases across the city.

Do you think the University should move completely online? Let us know in the Instagram poll on our story.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Bristol Uni rejects UCU staff demands to stop ‘unnecessary’ face to face teaching

Bristol moving to ‘Tier 1+’ amid fears of a move to Tier 2

University of Bristol students to withhold over £1 million in rent strike