Newcastle UCU has advised their members on Twitter to consider removing past teaching materials from Blackboard whilst they go out on industrial action.
A tweet from the Newcastle UCU Twitter page states: “Hearing that some schools/programmes plan on running ReCaps/PowerPoints from previous years for students who miss out on teaching in the upcoming strikes. Whose intellectual property? Members might consider going into previous Blackboard sites and removing teaching material.”
Following on from this, Newcastle UCU posted a thread of tweets outlining the University’s ReCap policy. The tweets read: “Further to this- the University’s own ReCap policy states: The University strongly encourages all staff to record lectures wherever possible but confirms that performance rights are retained by staff and therefore staff choose: Whether their teaching sessions are recorded, whether to edit their recordings, when to make recordings available to students, when recordings are deleted.
“So an email reminding everyone of these rights is surely needed if some units are preparing for strike action by going through previous year's BB sites to see what can be offered.”
The story was first broken by the Tab, who stated that, “Newcastle UCU's Twitter have directed lecturers to delete old recorded lectures from Blackboard during the strike period, so that students are unable to catch up with content.”
The Courier spoke to Newcastle University UCU Equality Officer and English Literature lecturer Stacy Gillis, who provided some clarification on the series of tweets made by Newcastle UCU. She said that, “no one is taking down material from current modules, as far as I know.
“What Newcastle University UCU is saying is that if the University chooses to take material from previous years, that isn’t currently available at the moment to current students, and post it on current Blackboard sites, then that contravenes the University’s own ReCap policy?
“No one is suggesting at all that material from current modules be removed, in fact, as many people I know are adding material to sites to give students extra material to cover anything that might be missed, even though they are not required to do this.”
A third-year Journalism student said in response to this that “the UCU’s response to this does now clear the air somewhat to the early animosity felt by students.
“However, this clarification should never have been required if the tweets had been shared with a clear message.”
Further to this, Newcastle University’s UCU Twitter page posted a response clarifying their previous set of tweets. They say: “Concern among some students that we are advocating removing *ALL* teaching material from Blackboard. Not at all!
“Rather we have pointed out that it would contravene the University’s own ReCap policy to use recorded lectures from previous years as a replacement for lectures missed as a result of industrial action. The University’s OWN policy, not ours.
“At no point has anyone advocated removing current teaching material.”
A spokesman for Newcastle University said, “ReCap is valuable tool to support the personal learning journey of our students and is a much-valued resource.
“For the benefit of our students, and in accordance with our ReCap Policy, we strongly encourage all colleagues to record lectures and make them available to their students but confirm that performance rights are retained by colleagues.”
The strikes are planned to take place on the Thursday and Friday of this week, with action increasing for the next three weeks up until March 13, which has been met with a mixed reaction by Newcastle University students.
One third-year History student, said, “What is the point of endless emails promising that they’re [university staff] doing everything they can to mitigate the impact on students?
“For the majority of us our degrees aren’t a joke or three extra years to put off adult responsibilities- they matter for our future and we’ve worked hard for them.
“Being affected by strikes three times during my university career- and having dissertation supervisors striking next week is quite frankly spitting on that hard work. This isn’t compulsory education, we’re paying for the “privilege” of their time, and in any other industry or circumstance we would already have been refunded.”
Third-year Geography students, whose dissertations are due during the strikes, also voiced their concerns about the strikes. One student said that, “losing the support of dissertation supervisors at such a critical time puts all geographers at a huge disadvantage.”
Another Geographer stated, “I feel like our year group have been the victims of all the strikes, missing something like ten weeks of lectures now since first year. It’s a joke that we’re paying for this service and that this is supposed to equip us for skills for work and life.”
Further to this, another Geographer added, “it’s going to affect all our other deadlines afterwards if they do give us an extension on the dissertation as well, meaning that it will affect our other modules.”
In addition to this reaction to the strikes, Law student, Emily Johnson, has set up a petition demanding compensation for the upcoming industrial action.