Press Office

Joint statement

Joint statement by Newcastle University and UCU

Published on: 22 October 2020

Newcastle University and the Newcastle branch of the University and College Union are committed to providing our students with the highest standard of education.

As part of this commitment, our responsibility to the health and safety of students, colleagues and the wider community of Newcastle and the region is of paramount importance.

The number of positive cases among the University population and the North-East is reflected in the institution’s decision to move to the Department of Education’s Tier 3 status and was made on the advice of the Director of Public Health for Newcastle. While the numbers of positive student cases are decreasing, we cannot predict the course of the pandemic more generally, and we note that countrywide daily infection numbers continue to rise.

In order to provide clarity and certainty to colleagues and students, Tier 3 teaching arrangements going forward will be to provide present-in-person (PIP) teaching on courses only where;

• it is essential to meet the programme learning outcomes and/ or satisfy the requirements of subject-specific accrediting bodies or

• access is required to subject specialist learning spaces and/or equipment/instruments.

These courses have been shared with students and colleagues (including UCU) and are available on the University website. This will result in the majority of teaching being online only. If we remain in Tier 3 for a prolonged period, this list of courses will need amending as it will become necessary, in some courses, to deliver essential PIP teaching that has currently been postponed until later in the academic year.

If the prevalence of infection and numbers self-isolating continues to fall in our students and the community more generally, we hope, in consultation with the Newcastle City Council Director of Public Health, to agree a move back to Tier 2 before the end of the calendar year.

In that case, the approach to teaching will be the same as described for Tier 3 with the addition of those PiP activities considered to be most beneficial to students in terms of supporting their transition, developing a learning community, engendering engagement with their programme of study and/or helping support their mental health and wellbeing. The precise nature of beneficial activities will be determined at School/Unit level in discussion with student course reps.

Colleague participation in these activities will be on a voluntary basis. We will continue to provide the opportunity for those colleagues who wish to attend campus to do so. Otherwise, colleagues (Academic and Professional Services) will only need to attend campus where this is an essential part of their role or where this forms part of delivering essential education and research activity.

Colleagues from across the University have been working tirelessly to ensure our campus and teaching spaces are as Covid-safe as possible and over the next 10 weeks we will all be working to keep the campus open for safe, physically distanced study and research.

These additional measures will allow our colleagues to focus on providing our students with an excellent education during a global pandemic, and to give our degree programmes the greatest possible resilience during this time of great change and crisis.

 

University Executive Board

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