UCL-UCU: *reminder & motion for debate* - Extraordinary General Meeting, Thu 2 Sep, 13:00-14:00

2 September 2021

This is a final reminder for the Extraordinary General Meeting taking place today, Thursday 2 September, 13:00-14:00, that will be conducted on Zoom.

The meeting will be an opportunity to discuss UCL's plans for staff to return to campus.

Many colleagues will have received department specific communications, and UCL has published 'returning to campus - interim people management guidance' which acknowledges the needs of specific groups (at point 7.2):

‘We must be mindful of the needs of different groups of staff and in particular (list not exhaustive):

  • clinically extremely vulnerable people (those who were asked to shield)
  • clinically vulnerable people (such as pregnant women, the over 70’s or those with certain underlying health conditions) who weren’t asked to shield
  • those with caring responsibilities e.g. childcare, living with vulnerable adults
  • those protected under the Equality Act 2010’

Health and Safety representatives will be reporting on joint-union demands on UCL to help ensure that staff can work as safely as possible and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Details of the motion for debate can be seen below.

UCL UCU Executive Committee


UCL UCU website

UCL UCU facebook page

Motion for debate - Covid 19 Safety & Mitigation at UCL

UCL UCU notes that:

  1. Universities across the UK are under pressure from the UK government to start a new academic year "open", with a default of students being taught on campus, backed up by threats by the government to support fee rebate claims from students if this does not happen.
  2. We are seeing record student recruitment especially among undergraduates, building on student numbers from last year.
  3. UCL official planning is for online lectures but in-person seminars/tutorials, but no social distancing on campus. Initial benchmark room occupancy plan of 30 students has been subsequently revised upwards by managers in the light of the surge in expected student numbers.
  4. The infectivity of Delta is approx. 75% greater than last year's dominant variant (R0 = 5.08 vs 2.89); vaccines are estimated to reduce infectivity by up to 60%. However, vaccination is not mandatory. Many students will not be vaccinated, either out of personal choice or access. Some staff may also not be vaccinated. Students and staff may live with others who are clinically vulnerable, may be unvaccinated, etc. They may also have lengthy commutes, exposing them to risks on the journey.

UCL UCU believes that:

  1. Campus crowding is liable to be a big problem on current projections.
  2. We need a principled prioritisation of *necessary* on-campus teaching, limits to class sizes and room occupancy. The "lecture" / "seminar" split offers some opportunity for academic discretion.

UCL UCU calls on UCL to:  

  1. build on last year's model, including department-level planning and respect for members' personal choices re modes of delivery (such as working from home and online provision).
  2. put in place proper mitigations in the form of masks, ventilation, air filtering, CO2 monitors and social distancing, and updated risk assessments, and ensure that staff asked to teach face-to-face in conditions not meeting these criteria can reasonably refuse until the conditions are changed.
  3. ensure workload is managed reasonably and equitably given the risk that "blended" teaching can lead to spiralling workloads, and/or small-class teaching tutorials are pushed onto (PG)TA's.
  4. accept that lecture recording must be under control of staff members. This includes whether the lectures are recorded, whether they are made using UCL platforms, whether they are stored on UCL platforms, and any use that is made of such recordings beyond the immediate provision of teaching in the new academic year period.
  5. also accept that the existence of recorded material on UCL platforms will *not* be taken to signal the relinquishing of performance rights with regard to these recordings in this (Covid19 pandemic) period.
  6. provide support for staff (including mental health support).

UCL UCU resolves to put these demands to UCL and to keep up vigilance and monitoring in this period, with the recruitment of more H&S reps where possible, and to establish a clear reporting line for those reps to report breaches.