23rd Oct, 2020

MP backs union pressure for university teaching to go totally digital

John Carlon 11th Sep, 2020

A COVENTRY MP has backed calls by a teaching union to move all university tuition online.

Zarah Sultana, Labour MP for Coventry South, has written to Warwick and Coventry vice-chancellors to press them to move teaching online as students return to campuses.

Ms Sultana said digital learning would ‘prevent the risk of a Covid outbreak that would put staff, students and the wider community at risk’

Her letter backs pressure from the union for lecturers, the University and College Union (UCU, which claims only by moving all teaching to online classes could staff be protected.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Evidence shows that the default position for learning this term should be online, with exceptions only where this is not possible. We urge Coventry and Warwick universities to listen to their local MP and abandon needless plans to force staff and students back onto campus.

‘The health of university staff, students and the wider community is too important to gamble with. This is not business as usual.’

Yesterday (September 10), the government released guidance for reopening English university campuses that suggested teaching outside, or opening doors and windows, throughout the winter to mitigate the risk of Covid. UCU described the guidance as “confusing, expensive and at times silly”.

A spokesman for the University of Warwick said: “We will be offering a blend of face-to-face and online learning. In term one lectures will take place online. This means any session with a class size above 25 will be delivered digitally.

“We will at all times follow the advice and instructions of Public Health England and Government as a whole. We are also drawing directly on the advice of Warwick researchers who work with the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).”

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