Sussex UCU release statement about face-to-face teaching

They outline 15 concerns with the compulsory nature of face-to-face teaching

Yesterday, November 24, the Sussex branch of the University and College Union released a statement outlining their views on face-to-face teaching in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They have been open about their views against in-person teaching since the beginning of the 2020-21 academic year, following their general meeting on September 28.

Sussex UCU holds the view that all on-campus work during the pandemic should be voluntary rather than mandatory (as advised by both the University of Sussex and UK Government guidelines). This does not mean that they don’t support those who wish to teach in-person, but would prefer this to be voluntary rather than enforced until it is safe for all to resume face-to-face education.

In the statement, they set out 15 concerns regarding the compulsory nature of face-to-face teaching at present. These include concerns about public health, inequality, and overwork.

With regards to public health, they make clear the danger brought about by face-to-face teaching in a period of instability nearing a third wave come 2021. Students and staff travelling to campus may use public transport and thus pose a much higher risk than would be incurred in online-only teaching.

Mental health is equally as important in their concerns, as the UCU recognise that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the education sector has been characterised by overwork and anxiety. By making in-person teaching mandatory, this has only increased pressures, as staff face disciplinary action for refusing to teach under these extreme conditions.

You can read the rest of Sussex UCU’s statement here.

When asked for comment,  spokesperson for The University of Sussex said: “We remain committed to continuing to provide students with blended learning next semester, comprising both in-person and remote teaching.

“We continue to work with our staff and the trade unions to finalise these plans and ensure that they meet the needs of our students. We recognise the enormous efforts our staff have made in providing students with both in-person and remote teaching this semester. We remain committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our staff and students is at the forefront of any decisions we make as a community.”