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Warwick UCU asks members to opt out of lecture capture

The Warwick branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has asked lecturers at the university of Warwick to opt out of lecture capture this year.

An email, first sent to union members on 5 August, was entitled “Lecture capture: Don’t opt in”.

According to the email, Warwick UCU believes that lecture capture was used during the strikes in February/March to “break the strike”, which “contravene[d] UCU policy passed at Congress 2018”.

Warwick UCU then suggested that the use of lecture capture this year would “undermine future strike action”, and “raises serious concerns about other future uses of lecture capture”.

The UCU thus advised members to opt out of lecture capture this year, while suggesting that staff may not know the lecture capture system to be voluntary “until management agrees to use lecture capture for its intended purpose – to facilitate and supplement current teaching practices”.

Warwick UCU expressed their dissatisfaction with the University’s use of lecture capture during the strikes earlier this year. As it stands today, the University is not allowed to publish material for a striking member of staff’s module without that member of staff’s permission. However, the University did published material without staff members’ consent.

This is a reminder to ourselves and management that conduct during industrial action has ramifications for when work is resumed. UCU cannot support lecture capture in its current form.

– Duncan Adam, Warwick UCU vice president

Duncan Adam, vice president of the UCU, told The Boar: “UCU is disappointed that the University has chosen to act in a way which we believe contravenes both the letter and the spirit of the lecture capture policy, by using lecture capture material during the recent pensions dispute to replace withdrawn labour.”

“This is a reminder to ourselves and management that conduct during industrial action has ramifications for when work is resumed. Regrettably, further discussions with management have not produced any assurances that such behaviour will not be repeated. Therefore UCU cannot support lecture capture in its current form.”

The UCU, however, acknowledged the significance of lecture capture to students who use the system as a “special adjustment”. The union proceeded:

“UCU, both nationally and at the local branch level, is committed to inclusion and we fully acknowledge the need to make alternative arrangements, from time to time, to accommodate the specific needs of particular students.”

“However, this can be done on the basis that material is made available to those students only.”

In response to UCU’s actions, President of Warwick SU Liam Jackson told the Boar: “Warwick SU has policy and believes that lecture capture should be used for all lectures. It aids accessibility and allows students to have a better educational experience.”

“Having said that, we do not condone any misuse of lecture capture during the industrial action, and do not believe that it can be used as an alternative to replace lectures.”

“As a Students’ Union, we naturally work and are in solidarity with the UCU, as students and staff face similar issues. However at times we will have conflicting policy.”

“Lecture capture” refers to technology used by staff to record their lectures so that students can later review the material online at their own convenience. It is not used by all staff at the university but is often used by students to revise material or to see material for the first time if they were unable to attend the lecture.

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