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University of Liverpool's refusal to follow city's other universities online illustrates campus chaos

23 September 2020 | last updated: 24 September 2020

UCU said the university's refusal to follow Liverpool Hope University and Liverpool John Moores University online was a dereliction of its civic duty and was putting the health of staff, students and the local community at greater risk.

The University of Liverpool recently confirmed 87 positive Covid tests. The number has now reached at least 108. Two other universities in the city have made changes to how staff will work this term in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Liverpool John Moores University said it has moved the majority of face to face teaching on-line. Liverpool Hope University said it has moved all teaching online for the initial induction week and undergraduates who don't require the use of specialist teaching spaces will also see seminars and tutorials moved online, in line with their lectures. 

The union said that ministers had to act now and issue clear guidance that makes clear that online working should be universities' default position - bringing it in line with new government guidance for other workplaces. However, UCU said universities could not hide behind the government's failings and had to take responsibility and urgent action.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'The decision by the University of Liverpool to persist with campus working flies in the face of all the evidence and common sense. This decision is another indicator of the chaos and confusion that is blighting our university campuses as we try to gear up for the new academic year.

'There is little point in some universities doing their bit if they are going to be let down by the actions of others. This is especially true in somewhere like Liverpool where many campus buildings are so close together.

'The Westminster government needs to immediately deliver clear guidance to universities to move the majority of work online, but universities cannot wait for ministers to get their act together or hide behind their failings.

'Universities need work together to agree to move the majority of work online now. Any institution that refuses to put the health of its staff, students and local community first is failing its basic civic duty. The scientific evidence and the experience of other countries shows that a failure to do so will intensify the public health crisis in our towns and cities.'

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