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UCU response to Office for Students annual review

3 December 2020 | last updated: 7 December 2020

UCU commented on the Office for Students' (OfS) announcement of a forthcoming digital teaching and learning review.

UCU said staff must play a central role in the development of new approaches, as they are best placed to advise on what is beneficial for students' learning in different circumstances. 

The review comes as a new survey from Higher Education Policy Institute shows that students appreciate the hard work of staff and the quality of the teaching on offer. UCU said staff had 'moved mountains' to deliver online for students during the crisis but that the future of digital learning needed proper consideration based on consultation with staff. 

UCU said the considerations about accessibility and digital poverty being made in relation to students also needed to be made for staff. The union said the workload impact of any transition also needed to be properly considered. 

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'While we welcome this review and the opportunity to learn the lessons from the pandemic, we must ensure that staff and students voices are central to any discussion about the future of digital learning and quality assurance.  

'Staff have moved mountains under extreme pressure to make digital learning work for students in recent months. However, while innovation is important, it shouldn't be assumed that what is useful in a crisis is ideal for students and staff in the longer-term; this needs thorough consideration and consultation. 

'The review is right to acknowledge that staff are already facing burnout from increased workload, so it's crucial that the OfS works to minimise the burden on staff as it takes forward any work on digital delivery or quality assurance. The OfS should also remember that staff face many of the same issues as students when it comes to digital poverty and accessibility challenges, so a holistic approach is vital.'

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