Durham University faces backlash over plan to cut face-to-face courses

Durham University faces backlash over ‘radical’ plans to cut face-to-face teaching by up to 25 per cent in the new academic year amid the coronavirus crisis

  • The proposals were revealed by the university’s student newspaper Palatinate
  • Number of ‘live’ modules could be slashed with courses instead being put online 
  • But the University and College Union has called for the university to ‘halt’ plans
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

Durham University has come under fire over plans to cut face-to-face teaching by up to 25 per cent in the new academic year amid the coronavirus crisis.

The proposals, which were revealed by the student newspaper Palatinate, could see the number of ‘live’ modules drastically slashed with courses instead being rolled out online. 

It is thought that these measures could be introduced by the start of the 2020-21 academic year in October.

But the University and College Union (UCU) has called for the university to ‘halt’ its plans and launch a full consultation with staff and students. 

Durham University has come under fire over plans to cut face-to-face teaching by up to 25 per cent in the new academic year amid the coronavirus crisis. Pictured: University College, Durham University 

Jo Grady, general secretary of UCU, said: ‘Changes to our higher education system should be led by staff from the ground up, whether they are necessitated by Covid-19 or not.

‘We will do everything we can to challenge this and any other similarly destructive proposals.’ 

She added: ‘The global pandemic is not an opportunity for universities to try to swiftly implement radical change.

‘This looks like an attack on the livelihoods and the professional expertise of hard-working staff, all to line the pockets of private providers who don’t have the same track record of providing high standards of education.’

The proposals, which were revealed by the student newspaper Palatinate, could see the number of ‘live’ modules drastically slashed with courses instead being rolled out online (stock image)

The proposals, which were shared with heads of departments, are due to be considered by the University’s Senate next week.

Professor Antony Long, the university’s deputy vice-chancellor and provost, said: ‘We want to ensure we can continue to deliver (the) highest possible quality of educational offer for both current and future students within a strong collegiate and academic community.

‘None of us yet know what the 2020-21 academic year will look like, but we must plan now so that when we do, we have options properly developed and ready to implement for our current and future students.’

He added: ‘Anticipating that some and perhaps a significant number of students will not be able to travel to and live in Durham in 2020-21, we are preparing an online, distance learning programme that is both inclusive and high-quality.

‘We are extremely grateful for how our staff have responded to the Covid-19 crisis and we welcome their input, as well as that from trade union and student representatives, as we seek to take these proposals forward.’

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