According to leaked plans, reported in the student newspaper Palatinate, the university wants to slash face-to-face teaching by as much as 25% , and outsource its online learning to private providers.
UCU said universities should not see the global pandemic as an opportunity to try and drastically alter their different business models, and that Durham had to consult properly with staff and students over any changes.
The union said Durham’s plans looked like an attack on staff who had worked tirelessly and shown enormous goodwill to deliver during the Covid-19 pandemic. UCU said it would continue to defend the quality of education and its members’ jobs. It also warned other institutions against rushing to make similarly destructive plans.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘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.
‘Durham needs to halt these plans. The fact there has been no consultation with staff or students is unacceptable and we will continue to defend the quality of education staff provide and our members’ jobs. 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.’