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UCU criticises university re-opening exercise

10 May 2021

UCU has criticised the government's decision to resume in-person teaching at universities from 17 May saying it makes little sense for staff and students as most lessons will have already finished.

The union said it would be better to wait until next term for a wider reopening of campuses as more people will have been vaccinated, instead of using unreliable lateral flow tests to do so now. It also said the government should be providing much more funding to support student and staff wellbeing.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'The decision to return to in-person teaching on university campuses when classes for the vast majority of students have already finished is a distraction, placing more workload onto burnt out staff. The point of universities is learning and research, not jumping through ridiculous hoops.

'This looks like a stupid end to a stupid year beset by government mismanagement. It would be much safer to delay any in-person teaching until September when many more students and staff will have been vaccinated. This last-minute announcement will cause further stress for staff who are already facing unmanageable workloads. After months of chaos and uncertainty, we should be focusing on planning for September.

'If the government truly cared about universities it would listen to what staff have to say about the re-opening of universities and give staff and students some breathing space to prepare for the next academic year - which we hope is more normal than the last.'

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