Your Bristol UCU Special Newsflash, 15th February 2017

1) Timetabling & Staff Constraints

As members may be aware, there is a paper going to Senate on Monday 20th February, ‘Timetabling: Policy And Practice’. The report proposes, among other things, an extension to the teaching week by 4 hours – 40 to 44 hours.

For further information, please consult the Paper [PDF] and the relevant section of the UPARC Report [PDF] which ‘strongly’ endorse the proposed changes.

According to the UPARC recommendation, this will mean the teaching day starting at 08:30 and ending at 18:30 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 08-30-12:30 on Wednesday. The paper also details a reassessment of staff constraint requests and an institutional approach to timetabling.

There is much more to the paper than this bare summary. In identifying the current timetabling ‘crisis’, the University identifies many positive measures and recognises the equality aspect of current academic workload management. Where there are a high usage of staff constraint, Bristol UCU has asked for a gender breakdown.

As a first response. Bristol UCU notes the lack of consultation about these changes. Initial feedback from reps and members suggests deep staff concern about the proposed changes.

The Bristol UCU view is that much can be done by focusing on specific problems that create instability in the timetabling process, rather than adopting a blanket ‘increase the working day’ approach.

Workload has been a key concern of the branch for some time. The extension of the working day and any ‘hardline’ approach to constraints runs counter to this.

As a next step, members are encouraged to get in touch with and lobby members of Senate [PDF].

The proposals have gone through the requisite high-level committees, but the marked absence of any wider discussion has led to a ‘democratic deficit’. Regardless of one’s view, for such a change to go hitherto unheralded is worrying.

Lobbying Senate is the last remaining option for staff to influence/determine the general policy direction.

Please email if you have any further comment.