Durham University rethinks virus teaching plan

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image copyrightDurham University
image captionOpponents had described the university's proposals as "destructive"

A university has revised its plan to cut the number of modules it runs if the coronavirus lockdown continues into the new academic year.

Durham University had mooted moving modules online from this autumn and cutting the overall number by 25% in a bid to ease "workload pressures".

Its vice-chancellor has now said heads of departments will not be required to reduce the courses they had planned.

The University and College Union (UCU) welcomed the move.

'Misjudged our academics'

Professor Stuart Corbridge said: "On the worst-case assumption that nobody is here [in the autumn], our original idea was to say it might be a bit ambitious to get all 100% of our modules ready by October.

"So we did initially say perhaps you would care to think about not putting on 25%. That was done to try and acknowledge the fact it is a difficult time for people and workload pressures.

"I am happy to say that I think we misjudged our academics. It is very clear that most academics do not want to let go of their courses.

"What we are now saying is it is up to you if you want to put on 100% of courses in your department and if you feel you can do that that's great."

The vice-chancellor's comments came ahead of a meeting with the university's senate, where proposals on online courses and distance learning were due to be discussed.

A spokesman added the university "hopes and expects students will return to Durham in September, in which case all teaching would go ahead face-to-face".

Last week, the UCU called for a "halt" to any plans to reduce face-to-face teaching as they said the proposals were "destructive".

Commenting on the move to reconsider, general secretary Jo Grady said: "Changes to any university's higher education system should be led by staff from the ground up, whether they are necessitated by Covid-19 or not."

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