Over the course of the last year the University has drafted a new policy on Lecture Recording and many of you may have participated in the consultation that took place about this in the spring. The policy working group involved representation from the Joint Unions Liaison Committee and this was largely a positive experience in our ‘partnership working’ with University management.
Unfortunately UCU Edinburgh has not been able to conclude signing-off this policy and the University has taken the unilateral decision to impose it. The employer initially proposed to impose the policy from September 2018; however, given UCU’s intervention this will now take effect from Jan 1st 2019.
The imposition of policy without agreement is a very serious matter and this leads us to the beginning of a local industrial dispute.UCU has lodged a formal notice of ‘Failure to Agree’ with the University management and there has been one meeting to consider our disagreement.
Since UCU’s local and national policy on one or two final points is contrary to the position taken by the University we want to consult members to assess the strength of feeling about this matter.
We will shortly be conducting an electronic consultation with the help of national UCU and following their guidelines on local disputes. We want to assess members’ views on this matter, to build pressure on the employer to negotiate further on this policy, and to assess how strongly members feel about moving into dispute and potentially undertaking a statutory ballot over lecture capture.
- One of the main issues is that we believe lecturers should decide whether or not they wish to record a lecture, and the process to do so should be to “opt-in” to record, not to “opt-out”.
- The second issue is the length of time recordings are retained
- Finally there is the imposition of policy itself.
We are aware that there are ongoing discussions in some Schools which have not yet adopted lecture recording and there are very real concerns about the ease of opting-out, security of sensitive discussions and the workload burden that lecture recording imposes. There are also principled pedagogical and practical arguments against lecture recording which contradict the very positive narrative the University has employed. Staff who hold these opinions are now put in a very difficult position and UCU committee believes this should not be the case.
Before we launch the consultation and for those schools actively looking at this the following questions may be helpful to consider.
- Is the opt-out easy enough?
The University claims this is the case but experience in Schools may be different. Unlike other universities Edinburgh makes little or no effort to follow the national JISC guidelines on written consent or assertion of rights.
- Does the policy protect individual rights enough?
We look forward to ongoing discussion with members as this matter progresses and we hope to facilitate that discussion both online and through open general meetings.