Warwick UCU has submitted the following statement of expectations to University management, asking that Warwick (a) acknowledge now that staff will need to develop fully online teaching for all modules running in Term 1, in order to give staff time to skill up and plan appropriately; (b) create a university-wide framework for workload management; and (c) acknowledge the extra work that moving online will entail by providing an incentivised system of deferred benefits.
UCU Warwick: Statement of Expectation on Education Strategy and Workload Management
Warwick UCU is aware that the 2020-21 academic year will bring many challenges for the University. Union members and their representatives are no different to the rest of University staff: we understand the current situation and are committed to supporting one another in upholding the world-leading operations of the University in research and teaching.
We are concerned, however, about the University’s recent announcement outlining the shape of the coming academic year, which suggests that staff will be expected to deliver f2f (face-to-face) teaching wherever possible, and to be ready to switch to a fully online provision with minimum notice. This means that all classes will need to be prepared in advance as both f2f and online experiences, in anticipation of these eventualities.
Planning and preparing for this scenario inevitably creates a substantially increased workload for staff directly involved in teaching as well as those supporting the student experience, and the University’s communication has not adequately acknowledged this extra demand on our labour. Creating new online resources and preparing for new methods of teaching all require significant time for training, pedagogically robust redesign, and delivery; indeed, it would be entirely misaligned with Warwick’s commitment to high quality teaching, and in many cases entirely impossible, to simply transfer f2f pedagogies online. The projected cuts of the sessional teaching budget, the potential of working with reduced staff (as staff may be ill or may need to shield), and the take up of the VLS scheme will only add more pressure to our workloads. The extra workload required to meet University demands for online teaching will require significant extra hours of work, and it is highly likely that research output will suffer as a result during the next academic year.
Unfortunately, the University of Warwick has no University-wide framework for workload management. This means departmental workload models vary widely across the University, and some units of operation have no quantitative workload management in place at all. While development of such a model has been mooted by University management in response the last round of industrial action, progress has been rudimentary so far, with many issues still to work through. Warwick’s situation already falls well short of concrete efforts to ensure adequate duty of care undertaken by other institutions. The absence of a workload framework further complicates the ability of the University to deliver a dynamic combination of face to face and online teaching in the next academic year.
Based on the above analysis, Warwick UCU believes that the University is already aware that staff will need to be prepared to teach all modules running in Term 1 wholly online. Being transparent with staff now would allow them to train and plan appropriately, protecting their welfare and ensuring the quality of their teaching. To meet these goals, Warwick UCU calls on the University to urgently prioritise the creation of a proper workload framework, to be ready by the end of August 2020.
The workload framework should specify the following:
- Confirmation that the notional working week for teaching staff is 36 hours according to contract. UCU’s interpretation of contractual obligations is that although employees in Grades 6 to 9 have technically opted out of the work time directive, they still have the right to withdraw this agreement at any time, particularly where workloads become excessive. Any workload should specify 48 hours a week as an absolute maximum.
- Time allocated for the additional work needed to develop and deliver online and blended versions of modules, as well as how departments will integrate any extra hours into existing modelling.
- How any additional hours, above the relevant thresholds, will be compensated and incentivised by deferring benefits over a reasonable timescale; based on amendments to the WTD (UK Government 2020), such a timescale might be two years. Opportunities for deferred benefits might include a future time-off policy to recognise additional working hours through the provision of additional annual leave entitlement, automatic renewals for temporary staff or extra research time.
- That probation, promotion, and performance management processes reflect the additional teaching and administrative burden placed on staff a result of the crisis, and that these processes are properly communicated and implemented at the departmental level.