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UCU comment on Scottish government guidance on reopening university campuses

3 September 2020 | last updated: 17 September 2020

Commenting on guidance released by the Scottish government regarding the reopening university campuses, UCU Scotland said remote learning and working had to be institutions' default position. The guidance came after the University of St Andrews announced it was moving the majority of its teaching online for the first seven weeks.

Mary Senior, UCU's Scotland official, said: 'It is good to see the government and employers acknowledging that campus life won't be back to normal this year. It's vital that all universities follow the cautious, risk-assessed approach to the new academic year, but we're clear that remote learning and working has to be the default position. We're urging all employers to follow the moves taken by some universities - including St Andrews in the last 24 hours - in delivering learning remotely.  

'Remote and online learning needs to be the default position for all universities, on the understanding that this can pivot quickly to a return to face-to-face learning when it is safe to do so. Important measures, such as two metres physical distancing, face coverings and additional hygiene measures will all be vital over the coming weeks and months.

'It is hard to understand why the guidance countenances universities teaching groups of up to 50 students at a time, when in other guidance the Scottish government recommend meeting no more than eight people inside or 15 outside socially.  In order for people to abide by guidance it needs to be seen to be consistent.  

'It is also disappointing to see threats of disciplinaries for staff and for students for breaches of any of the Covid-19 guidelines. The rules need to be adhered to, but a heavy handed threats should not be meted out to students and staff at a time which is uncertain and worrying for many.'

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