Urgent letter of concern at lack of support for staff & students

Dear Professor Corner, 

We would like to express our concern at the lack of support that staff, both academic and professional, have been given to prepare for the coming academic year. 

We are facing the following issues: 

1               Poor provision for online teaching. 

We have not received adequate information or training to be able to prepare for online teaching.  It was only a week before term that ITS confirmed what platforms we should use, but not whether they will be able to deliver all modes of teaching required.  There has been late and inadequate training provision.  Teaching staff are also being requested to train other teaching staff (such as graduate tutors) in using these platforms, which sees an unanticipated transformation of already-complex teaching roles. 

2               Poor library provision 

We have only just received finalised online reading lists.  We also have been informed that we cannot order required online materials (other than limited amounts of key readings).  Library staff have only checked key reading provision, and not other reading materials on reading lists.  Teaching staff are not in a position to check whether these materials are available in electronic form.  We have also been informed that the library has suffered both budget and staff cuts.  

3               No support for preparation of online teaching and services 

To adequately prepare online teaching, requires significant time from staff, both teaching and professional.  Due to a lack of clear structure and guidance, academic and professional staff have been working above and beyond contractual hours in order to ensure that the student experience is positive. 

4               No confirmation of graduate tutor contracts 

This has meant we are unable to prepare classes, or train these tutors, as appropriate. 

5               Late Timetabling 

We have not yet received final timetables for teaching. 

We are very concerned at the impact of the failure to provide appropriate resources, support, or confirmation of teaching staff upon the quality of teaching we are able to provide.  This does not give us confidence in the resilience of College systems in dealing with the large volume of online teaching we expect to do. 

Late timetabling has also had a serious effect on Professional Services staff, who are having to deal with increased workloads due to staff cuts, on top of delayed assessments, and many other numerous issues relating to the start of term. Without adequate support, staff in these areas are not able to meet extra demands in a way that safeguards wellbeing.   

We are aware of your previous email expressing your dissatisfaction about recent NSS scores.  If you are truly concerned by these scores, then you will ensure that we have the necessary resources to provide the excellent teaching for students teaching we are all committed to.  Given the lack of regard the College has demonstrated on these issues so far, we request a published official announcement by the College about these oversights and a senior level of responsibility communicated for the inevitable student dissatisfaction we will face. We urge you to recognise that the College cannot run on goodwill alone and for many, there is a workload crisis.   

Best wishes GUCU Executive team