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UCU statement on online learning at English universities

12 April 2021

UCU said the UK government's decision not to lift restrictions on in-person teaching at English universities as part of the 12 April reopening was the right call.

The union said ministers have belatedly listened to the union's demand to keep the majority of learning online, but they must now be honest with staff and students and admit most courses will stay online until the end of the academic year.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'UCU has been calling for English universities to stay online until the start of the next academic year. After a year of dithering and delay from ministers it now looks like they have belatedly listened to our demands and will keep learning online until at least 17 May. But restarting in-person activities in mid-May, with only weeks of the academic year left, makes absolutely no sense as most lectures and seminars will already have finished. It would also place undue pressure on staff who are already facing burnout from the chaotic and unsustainable demands placed on them this year. Ministers now need to be honest with staff and students and confirm most courses will stay online until September.

'Too many universities are still calling for in-person activities and 'blended learning'. Instead, they should focus on providing proper health and wellbeing support to students and staff, as well as helping staff prepare for the next academic year.'

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