I joined the Independent Sage panel on behalf of UCU this afternoon, to discuss the (many) issues around the return to campus and plans for face to face teaching. You can watch the whole thing – also including important and incisive input from fellow UCU member Felicity Callard – here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t4MjpN2d_U

The Indy SAGE report on universities launched today is now out for consultation. There is a lot to digest in the report, a lot to welcome, such as the emphasis on no unnecessary on campus contact, masks and ventilation, etc.

We need to look in detail at all the recommendations and I hope the union will make constructive commentary including regarding the risks attached to any kind of agreement that may lead to inaccurate reporting. Transparency is vital to building trust in our universities in the short, medium, and long term.

We have to keep our campuses safe. So, for example, we shouldn’t recommend our members support anything that might risk delays or ommitances on the number of cases. We also need to talk about how figures dependent on ‘permission to report’ could exacerbate pressures on many people not to report for fear of losing income. Many staff and students are working in the gig economy, including withIN universities. To top it off, we are hearing examples of the most precariously employed staff – GTAs – being asked to bear the brunt of the majority of face to face teaching in some institutions (looking at you, Essex).

I hope that UCU will be able to continue working closely with Independent SAGE on the risks to students and staff across all sectors we represent: in universities, colleges, adult and community education settings, and prison education.