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Northumbria University moves learning online after staff threatened industrial action

7 October 2020 | last updated: 13 October 2020

UCU welcomed the decision by Northumbria University to move learning online after its members threatened to ballot for industrial action over Covid health and safety failings. However, the union said the decision should have been taken earlier, and urged other universities to move their work online.

Both Northumbria University and the University of Newcastle will move online tomorrow for a minimum of three weeks. Newcastle has some of the highest rates of Covid UK and saw 1,227 new cases last week. 

UCU regional official Iain Owens said: 'It was the right decision for Newcastle's universities to move learning online. But it should not have taken the threat of industrial action for Northumbria University to put the health and safety of its staff and students first.

'Newcastle's universities need to make sure staff are given the resources to provide students with a high quality remote learning experience and undertake careful longer term planning. They also need to fully consult with unions before any return to in-person teaching, and not rush to get staff and students back onto campus.

'We now desperately need a nationally coordinated response from government that moves working online across all universities to help lower the rate of transmission and stem this crisis.'

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