Cook'd and Bomb'd

Forums => Remain Indoors (DEAD SOON) => Topic started by: Alberon on March 16, 2020, 10:17:12 PM

Title: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on March 16, 2020, 10:17:12 PM
It seems everyone on this forum and their dog works at a university so this thread is for all of us. We can report on how well upper management are doing.

My uni has just decided to go to online only teaching while leaving research and admin as normal. I’m part of a small team spread around the university and one of us had a transplant years ago so has to take immune depressing medicine to survive. They really need to self-isolate right now, but (since I’m on holiday this week) I don’t know if they have been sent home.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Harry Badger on March 16, 2020, 10:41:28 PM
We were told this morning that we would be trialling working from home on Wednesday. Had an email this evening that work from home begins tomorrow, so I have to go in and pick up a few items.

All of my team's work has been cancelled until further notice anyway so I don't think I will be doing much.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: icehaven on March 16, 2020, 10:59:56 PM
I don't work in a Uni but yesterday I was talking to someone I know who does, and she said if they have to cancel lectures for any significant length of time students are going to start asking for their fees to be refunded, and if they're successful the Uni could go bankrupt.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Small Potatoes on March 16, 2020, 11:00:54 PM
Email from my VC at 11pm telling us all not to come in tomorrow. Feels like a bit of panic starting to creep in, which is unnerving.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on March 16, 2020, 11:54:30 PM
My Uni are very aware that I have chronic asthma, and I was hospitalised twice late last year, so assume it will be something of a doddle to stay at home. I'm interested in this whole 'working from home' thing from a data protection point of view, given that WE are liable for any misuse. Also, the assumption that we all have home offices with PCs or laptops we have bought with our money is a decent insight into why academics are constantly coerced into completing ghost tasks at out own expense a great deal of the time.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on March 16, 2020, 11:58:34 PM
We gradually shut down last week. First lectures were cancelled, then some departments stopped tutorials and then the whole place was closed by the government. We have an increasing number of positive cases among staff and students, and problems moving online, but I'm really glad were closed. Its It's insane that some of you in the UK are still supposed to be teaching in person.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on March 17, 2020, 12:00:55 AM
I can't think of a more productive petri dish for the spread of this infection than the UK Uni system, with all of its toing and froing and romancing thousands of students into coming here to study, plus warm rooms, lack of hourly cleaning, and compressed campuses.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Johnny Yesno on March 17, 2020, 12:30:14 AM
Students to start being taught online as from Monday, academics to be able to work from home, professional services staff to continue coming in to work. Thanks vice chancellor. It's nice knowing we're bottom tier.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: grassbath on March 17, 2020, 01:14:18 AM
I don't work in a Uni but yesterday I was talking to someone I know who does, and she said if they have to cancel lectures for any significant length of time students are going to start asking for their fees to be refunded, and if they're successful the Uni could go bankrupt.

The former is definitely true - seen a ton of petitions and stuff today, but what kind of steps would need to be taken for them to make a successful claim against a University?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 17, 2020, 06:34:11 AM
Lectures etc stopped and online but everything else BAU except for the risk groups. Our VC is very much a Boris of VCs.

Bit of a pain as im looking for a lecturer position at moment and ive been hearing the market will contract due to this.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Here Comes Mongo on March 17, 2020, 07:07:39 AM
This was doing the rounds on twitter a couple of days ago; it's a condescending email underplaying the risks of the virus from a university (Cardiff, I think) lecturer to students.

(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ETAsMsGXYAgi57A.jpg)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Dr Trouser on March 17, 2020, 07:23:16 AM
All teaching went online last week and students have left campus. Working from home is looking available if it makes sense. Car parks (we are in the centre of town) are free if you don’t want to come in on germ riddled public transport.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on March 17, 2020, 07:51:15 AM
VC finally announced that we are to go to online teaching from next Monday -- but headed her email with THERE IS NO CORANAVIRUS ON THIS CAMPUS.

The latter is not true, of course, as they sent round an email over the weekend that someone in senior management's got it.

Campus and facilities are to remain open; lecturers are encouraged to come in and continue teaching via online means from their offices in case students still want tutorials.

Absolutely no provision is being made for how lecturers are meant to teach, how exams will be held -- usually SMT directive of laying down the law first and then scrambling around to initiate second. Some of my colleagues have already been planning -- but I got home last night to nearly 50 emails from panicking colleagues about 'How are we supposed to do this?!' and 'I don't have the internet at home!!!!' and 'I don't want to record my lectures because I'm in the union!' [by comparison, normally when I leave my office around 4pm, and arrive home at 5pm, I might have one or two emails].

You just have to add audio to your powerpoints and set up discussion in Canvas, you nitwits, not direct a West End musical.

The students are all in a panic because their assessments and teaching got so fucked up with the four weeks' strike disruption.

The most egregious thing about this whole annoucement was the VC's email: purple comic sans. Christ. Oh, and if we're teaching online/remote learning, we're expected to be available to student emails 24/7. No. I plan to treat online teaching the same way I would if I were physically on campus: set times for lecture/discussion through Canvas, tutorial through discussion options, and answering email the same way I do now: twice a day at set times, between 8 and 5pm M-F.

I still have to go in on Wednesday and Thursday, as classes are still meant to be held, but I expect more and more students to bail out as the week goes on.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 17, 2020, 08:59:09 AM
The bigwigs here at Embra are currently in an emergency meeting and expected to tell us all to stay at home shortly. Teaching moved online a while back and I think all of the biomedical science departments have now cancelled all seminars until the end of April.

Those of us who are lab-based had been told not to plan any lengthy, time-critical or expensive experiments in case we have to abandon them midway. We've also been told to prepare to werk from home. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do here- it's not like I keep a cell culture incubator and a confocal microscope in the spare room.

I'm already self-isolating with a sore throat and a sniffle. Feeling a bit better today and positive it's not Covid-19. I had already booked some annual leave for later in the week, for a job interview at another university, which will be over Skype. I guess I won't be going back to any university for a while then.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 17, 2020, 09:09:02 AM
The most egregious thing about this whole annoucement was the VC's email: purple comic sans. Christ.

Ah yes, I love going to seminars on Parkinson's and Alzheimer's and traumatic brain injury and noting that the speaker has used Comic Sans for all their slides.

Being at Embra, I usually get about nine million emails a day and spend my first five minutes at werk filtering out all the chaff- departmental newsletters, bake sales, coffee mornings, the Head of Sustainability reminding us all to buy reusable coffee cups, staff surveys and all the other stuff I do not give a shit about. I used to get at least 20 of these emails a day, now they've completely dried up. I'd be glad if only the reason for this wasn't a fucking virus that is going to kill us all.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on March 17, 2020, 09:30:23 AM
The college has been totally shut down since Thursday but accommodation has stayed open. In the light of a few new cases, they're now giving the students until 5pm on Wednesday to leave unless there are serious extenuating circumstances (eg the threat of homelessness). They've had less than 48 hours notice. This really isn't on, is it?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 17, 2020, 09:34:46 AM
Just had my meeting - he received an e-mail during it to tell him "TO GO HOME". I asked if this was a University wide e-mail but no, just administration.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on March 17, 2020, 10:03:21 AM
Shutting down today. Lecturers to remain in unless appropriate wfh agreed. Moving to online support.

My department well ahead of the curve, so starting to relax on that front.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on March 17, 2020, 11:10:44 AM
Good Christ I hate my colleagues just now -- my inbox has been overstuffed all morning -- over 100 emails in about an hour, when normally on a Tuesday morning, I might have 15? total.

All freaking out about distance learning and how to add audio to PPT.,

STOP HITTING REPLY ALL, YOU DEMIFUCKWITS.

I'd hate to see these people during a real fucking crisis.

Most of it is people repeating themselves, talking at cross purposes, contributing contradictory information. No wonder the students are so confused.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on March 17, 2020, 12:21:34 PM
I'm rather delighted to still be on strike for one more day, watching picket crossers frantically trying to sort stuff out that is bound to change by tomorrow morning anyway.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: dissolute ocelot on March 17, 2020, 12:49:07 PM
Heriot-Watt in Edinburgh is stopping all face-to-face teaching today. I don't teach there, so I'm more concerned that they still have a monument to Alex Salmond in the middle of campus (commemorating a speech he gave on free education), but hopefully if he's convicted there'll still be someone with a sledgehammer.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on March 17, 2020, 12:50:53 PM
Email from the dean, one line: 'Please be ready to go to online teaching tomorrow, and not next Monday. In fact, if you can teach this afternoon's classes online, please do so. Further info from senior management coming soon.'

My first thought: Yes! I can sleep in tomorrow [my commute means invariably a 445 start in the morning.]
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 17, 2020, 01:35:31 PM
Edinburgh now sending round an email asking for volunteer research scientists to come and help with Covid-19 screening. I'd be happy to help, but can't Boris pay us? Big Society marches on.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 17, 2020, 03:35:17 PM
Actually, I probably should do this shouldn't I?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 17, 2020, 03:38:35 PM
Anyone here from Manchester Uni? I have a question
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on March 17, 2020, 06:48:36 PM
Today's special sauce - senior management comes back from long weekend off  ( :/ ) to request all departments fill out their forms for what we've been doing the last week. Said form is incomprehensible.

Right.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Dr Trouser on March 17, 2020, 07:21:02 PM
Anyone here from Manchester Uni?

Absolute shower of wanks - hope they all get the Vid
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 17, 2020, 07:58:30 PM
Absolute shower of wanks - hope they all get the Vid

They are advertising 8 fellowships, 5 year tenure track beasts. I sent an informal enquiry, they asked for a bit of detail of what i would propose and then they sent me a rejection of “your application”.

What the hell? I hadnt even applied and had only sent a paragraph of informal email text. I didnt have to email, could have gone and done the full and carefully costed and planned proposal instead.

Wondered if it was a closed shop case or im just shit. Either way, fucking bastards, especially as im at deaths door (didnt tell them that)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on March 17, 2020, 11:46:09 PM
You are shit to be fair.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Pijlstaart on March 18, 2020, 12:24:57 AM
Face-to-Face teaching stopped last Friday, no-one mourning that. Email this evening that all wet labs must close by Friday, all experiments to be discarded immediately. 75 days into a 90 day experiment and it goes in the bin, non-negotiable. Dats not studying Cowonnooviwoo, dats studying a more severe and widespread disease, GET IN BIN. Fucking lunacy, seriously trying to smuggle things out to collaborator institutions that are less fuck-headed and camp out in a hotel whilst it finishes.

We had a floor-wide meeting to discuss contingency plans prior to the BIN EVERYTHING email, but we couldn't meet in one room because PLAGUE, twenty person Microsoft Teams meeting, twenty webcams, shit internet, went as well as you'd expect.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on March 18, 2020, 02:25:03 AM
Our Uni utterly frantic - especially with regards to data protection. They have no idea how home working will function because in most academic contracts, data protection is our responsibility.

No more PhD meetings thank you very much
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 18, 2020, 08:44:32 AM
You are shit to be fair.

I’ll haunt you Fozzy!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: evilcommiedictator on March 18, 2020, 08:59:38 AM
Australia here, started in back office this year, we started putting lectures online for Chinese students so we could still get their fees but now pretty much everything put online to minimise the number of students on campus. Worked remotely today, no issues with Zoom and that to communicate, the VC is planning on being told to close so we're trying to be ahead of the curve.
Given we only started at March 1 and students only have to pay fees if they're enrolled at the end of the month, I'd argue there's going to be a lot putting off study
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Dr Trouser on March 18, 2020, 09:41:51 AM
They are advertising 8 fellowships, 5 year tenure track beasts. I sent an informal enquiry, they asked for a bit of detail of what i would propose and then they sent me a rejection of “your application”.


That is quite odd even by their standards. It depends on where the funding is coming from. If it's internal then they will have to make sure there is a huge ROI with the appointees and that means they will use these to poach obvious candidates from other institutions, so I'd hazard a guess that they know who they want but are quite happy to harvest any interesting research proposals from other candidates.

They are, as I said, massive wanks
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on March 18, 2020, 10:09:58 AM
Set up my first online discussion for a seminar this morning -- told the students they can pop in and out of the discussion over the three hour period we'd normally be in session. Opened it up last night for any early birds, along with some questions to get us started.

Reminded them this morning about 30 minutes before it all started.

Reminded them, too, that the material from this session will be on the final exam.

Half an hour into the session, zero response -- I'm just talking to myself online. It's aggravating, as there is a ton of other stuff I could be doing between now and midday, but I need to hover around this in case someone, anyone adds to the discussion.

Meanwhile, the dean has put out an email asking people to stop looting their offices of their PCs and monitors -- apparently security is having a field day nabbing people who are loading up their cars with uni equipement to work from home. It's not funny, but the thought of a bunch of tweedy looters is making me laugh.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: mrpupkin on March 18, 2020, 10:36:07 AM
People on my course have got the arse ache because Uni is cancelling lectures and closing the library while saying there will be no reimbursement of fees. I get their discontent but am I right in thinking it would basically be suicidal of them to agree to refund undergrad fees without knowing if or when there will be any kind of government bailout?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on March 18, 2020, 11:21:48 AM
People on my course have got the arse ache because Uni is cancelling lectures and closing the library while saying there will be no reimbursement of fees. I get their discontent but am I right in thinking it would basically be suicidal of them to agree to refund undergrad fees without knowing if or when there will be any kind of government bailout?

I can see a pro-rate refund being something that follows on, but its not going to be a priority right now is it?

I've still got, err, 6 hours of lectures to record. Stated I'm not doing that in a single day.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on March 18, 2020, 11:22:38 AM
Other thoughts:

Quote
Meanwhile, the dean has put out an email asking people to stop looting their offices of their PCs and monitors -- apparently security is having a field day nabbing people who are loading up their cars with uni equipement to work from home. It's not funny, but the thought of a bunch of tweedy looters is making me laugh.

The universities have to support WFH properly. I got told to 'buy myself a laptop'. Err, how. about. no?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on March 18, 2020, 11:48:29 AM
I can see a pro-rate refund being something that follows on, but its not going to be a priority right now is it?

I've still got, err, 6 hours of lectures to record. Stated I'm not doing that in a single day.

I rather enjoy recording lectures. I#ve been pretending I'm a Radio 4 commentator.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on March 18, 2020, 12:10:05 PM
My two lectures yesterday were some of my favourites to be fair. About 6 or 7 students, the ones that really work hard and care, and some of the hardest material in the course.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 18, 2020, 12:14:36 PM
Looking grim on the job front, can't see Uni's hiring rapidly now. I'm scrabbling around asking "for favours" now, but even if something looks good, I won't be able to relocate most likely.. Got a Skype with France tomorrow, but he said 'due to Coronavirus' it doesn't look good for the short term
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on March 18, 2020, 12:54:34 PM
Yeah, given that they are already thinking about cancelling studies for the 2020-21 academic year (dependent on how things go in the summer) I would say that trying to get a job in HE is going to be very difficult. I am expecting redudancies - something Unis want to do anyway, but now they have a decent excuse.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 18, 2020, 01:15:58 PM
Yeah, given that they are already thinking about cancelling studies for the 2020-21 academic year (dependent on how things go in the summer) I would say that trying to get a job in HE is going to be very difficult. I am expecting redudancies - something Unis want to do anyway, but now they have a decent excuse.

Ho hum FUCK
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on March 18, 2020, 02:45:04 PM
Ho hum FUCK

If it helps, it's so bad in HE that people are jumping ship with increased regularity. That might work in your favour.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on March 18, 2020, 03:19:56 PM
My university management bods are fucking insane.

Open Day for this Saturday (which I was supposed to do) has been cancelled. Ok, fine. We're all now suddenly scrambling to teach online. Cool.

Now they've announced that all next week will be 'open week', and those of us scheduled to work the past open day will need to be on campus all week to meet with visitors and prospective students.

I've just emailed my chairman and said they can fuck that idea sky high.

ETA - never mind -- head of dept has quickly reemailed all of us to state that we just need to be on call to field emails and possibly take phone calls, NOT to come in. Very poorly worded email from senior management there.

Christ on a biscuit.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 18, 2020, 03:21:10 PM
If it helps, it's so bad in HE that people are jumping ship with increased regularity. That might work in your favour.

Ive had tonnes of goodwill and half-promises, but at the moment all ive got to show for it is some extra dosh for helping massage REF impact case studies. Hoping the Leeds thing comes off as that’ll buy me time and i can bother Shoulders
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on March 18, 2020, 03:36:38 PM
Quote
Now they've announced that all next week will be 'open week', and those of us scheduled to work the past open day will need to be on campus all week to meet with visitors and prospective students.


errr

what?

how did that one leave the draft pad?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on March 18, 2020, 03:50:58 PM

errr

what?

how did that one leave the draft pad?

It is a truly poorly worded initiative, even from those nerts -- it's an offer for people to email/phone the university.

But, yes, someone somewhere is thinking, 'Yes, let's have open week during a pandemic.'

We've also been told there won't be any research or learning/teaching funding next year due to the financial crisis created by corvid-19.

This is why I keep a diary -- with luck, some day someone's either going to get a PhD out of my diaries or at least a good laugh.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on March 18, 2020, 03:58:55 PM
Ive had tonnes of goodwill and half-promises, but at the moment all ive got to show for it is some extra dosh for helping massage REF impact case studies. Hoping the Leeds thing comes off as that’ll buy me time and i can bother Shoulders

Writing impact case studies for the REF is my wife's main job - to have done a job like that puts you in a decent position to be considered for a job as many ECRs have no fucking idea what the REF is or how they should meet its demands. An ability to understand the granular aspects of the job outside of teaching and researching is a huge plus - I know it helped me.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 18, 2020, 04:21:39 PM
Looking grim on the job front, can't see Uni's hiring rapidly now. I'm scrabbling around asking "for favours" now, but even if something looks good, I won't be able to relocate most likely.. Got a Skype with France tomorrow, but he said 'due to Coronavirus' it doesn't look good for the short term

Good luck all the same. I've got a Skype interview- a proper lengthy panel interview with a presentation and everything- for a job with a newly-promoted PI who wants to build up a research team to start ASAP but I doubt any of the successful candidates will be able to make the planned start date, and I wouldn't be surprised if they end up hiring no-one and sacking the whole thing off. I'm really happy in my current job and city but I've been cautious about my boss not getting more funding and now this whole pandemic thing has made me even more concerned that I should just go where the money is and take whatever I can get.

Perhaps lab-based work is less thin on the ground but I'm not feeling too confident either. Hope it goes well tomorrow, or you get to go to Leeds and play snooker with Shoulders and kick his ass.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 18, 2020, 10:06:47 PM
Keep getting emails from werk reminding us that despite the fact that admin staff, senior management, lecturers and anyone else who can werk from home is welcome to do so, us lab rats are not and we must soldier on because scientific research (ie, the fucking REF) is important.

Also despite the fact that our technical support staff are all winding down operations, so there'll be no way of ordering reagents, no deliveries of dry ice or liquid nitrogen, no staff to do our mass spec and sequencing, no-one to collect and process patient tissue samples etc- if I do manage to get anything done I'll just be adding to a massive backlog when all those technical staff return.

Oh, and there'll be no fucking canteen of course. And they've warned us that they've started emptying all the fridges in staff break rooms, so if I need to eat I'll have to go to one of the shops in the hospital nextdoor which will be full of spluttering coronavirus patients. Fucking marvellous.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Harry Badger on March 19, 2020, 09:35:53 AM
Been meaning to mention this for a while and now seems as good a time as any. If you have a university log-in, you should be able to access something called Box Of Broadcasts via LearningOnScreen. It's basically a repository of recordings from all major TV and radio stations, 24 hours a day going back a decade or so and includes films broadcast on those channels. Fantastic for binge watching/listening to series.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 19, 2020, 09:40:47 AM
Writing impact case studies for the REF is my wife's main job - to have done a job like that puts you in a decent position to be considered for a job as many ECRs have no fucking idea what the REF is or how they should meet its demands. An ability to understand the granular aspects of the job outside of teaching and researching is a huge plus - I know it helped me.

Thanks. Its a tough position, essentially my Fellowship finishes mid-June but I have maybe a month of notice that I can use after that. I've quite a few applications in but I'm wondering (especially the Leeds 10 monther) whether they will scrap hiring for a while. It demotivates me writing more applications, especially as I feel sick. There is a decent one at the Earlham Institute, but that will take a lot of effort to make a good application. I could try contacting the various HRs, but no guarantee of replies now. I might consider asking my University for a Plan B - what with all the money I've brought them with 10 years service.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 19, 2020, 09:41:45 AM
Good luck all the same. I've got a Skype interview- a proper lengthy panel interview with a presentation and everything- for a job with a newly-promoted PI who wants to build up a research team to start ASAP but I doubt any of the successful candidates will be able to make the planned start date, and I wouldn't be surprised if they end up hiring no-one and sacking the whole thing off. I'm really happy in my current job and city but I've been cautious about my boss not getting more funding and now this whole pandemic thing has made me even more concerned that I should just go where the money is and take whatever I can get.

Perhaps lab-based work is less thin on the ground but I'm not feeling too confident either. Hope it goes well tomorrow, or you get to go to Leeds and play snooker with Shoulders and kick his ass.

Thanks BJ, good luck with that interview - my wife was right, should have taken the Paris job last year...she's always right in the end
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 20, 2020, 10:54:55 AM
Cheers Blodders! Well, that was an experience- me sat at home, suited and booted, looking at a split-screen and talking to a panel of interviewers, all also sat in their respective homes.

This is the future though innit? If nothing else, this crisis has taught us that we don't need the faff and expense of travel to interviews, and that plenty of people don't need to commute and can work from home just fine. How long until BoJo is forced to admit Greta was right and we can scrap HS2 and Heathrow's third runway?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 20, 2020, 11:12:30 AM
Cheers Blodders! Well, that was an experience- me sat at home, suited and booted, looking at a split-screen and talking to a panel of interviewers, all also sat in their respective homes.

This is the future though innit? If nothing else, this crisis has taught us that we don't need the faff and expense of travel to interviews, and that plenty of people don't need to commute and can work from home just fine. How long until BoJo is forced to admit Greta was right and we can scrap HS2 and Heathrow's third runway?

Public Health England are looking for volunteers who know qPCR to support COVID-19 screening. Don't know if the same is happening in Scotland. Volunteer work of course

How did the interview go?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 20, 2020, 12:50:23 PM
Yes, NHS Lothian are looking for volunteers to help with screening and now it looks like the labs here might finally be going on lockdown I have just registered. I'd like to make myself useful and it'd be nice to have something nerdy to do with all that free time ahead. Could get free gloves and masks and sanitiser too, woo-hoo!

I think I did the best I could with the interview, it was quite relaxed and pleasant. Had some common ground which we were able to have a bit of a laugh about. Think they might want someone to do more computational stuff though. We shall see.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on March 20, 2020, 12:53:15 PM
My university is on near total lockdown from the end of today. Card access doors (like the main doors) which are unlocked during the usual working day won't be and technical services are winding down operations. All but two of the restaurants (for students still on site), bars and cafes are shutting as is the library. The campus will be more of a ghost town than it already is. I'm part of Buildings management and half of us are due in on monday to work half a day at work and half at home.

That's the plan, but it'll probably be all change by Monday.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 20, 2020, 12:54:21 PM
Back at werk today but it looks like Embra might finally shut down the research institutes and let us lab rats go home next week- there is another emergency meeting on Monday.

This follows Cambridge, Imperial and UCL doing the same this week. Apparently UCL have even deactivated everyone's cards so no panicking researchers can sneak into the labs and do a cheeky Western blot or two.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on March 20, 2020, 02:23:16 PM
Been meaning to mention this for a while and now seems as good a time as any. If you have a university log-in, you should be able to access something called Box Of Broadcasts via LearningOnScreen. It's basically a repository of recordings from all major TV and radio stations, 24 hours a day going back a decade or so and includes films broadcast on those channels. Fantastic for binge watching/listening to series.

Alllll righty then -- 100s of episodes of old Casualtys and Holbys up in this bitch here -- thanks, Harry: a colleague told me about this service a few weeks ago, but so much stuff got in the way I forgot to check it out.

Just been dipping in and out of old Casualtys (and have to figure out the filter, as they're coming up all out of order) with Mr Attila calling from downstairs, 'Why are you shouting about Dr Party Pants?' (we have nicknames for all of the characters, as one does).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 20, 2020, 02:28:03 PM
Back at werk today but it looks like Embra might finally shut down the research institutes and let us lab rats go home next week- there is another emergency meeting on Monday.

This follows Cambridge, Imperial and UCL doing the same this week. Apparently UCL have even deactivated everyone's cards so no panicking researchers can sneak into the labs and do a cheeky Western blot or two.

We have access for some lab work but only critical stuff and even then prioritised. I may be out of a job before this ends! Crikey. Returning like a post-crash banker to clear his desk in a cardboard box
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 20, 2020, 02:59:41 PM
How did your interview go btw? Any possibility you could take the job in France when/if this all blows over?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 20, 2020, 03:37:31 PM
Just had an email sent round from NHS Lothian asking if we can spare some rtPCR machines so they can use them for Covid-19 testing. Frankly they need them more than us right now, lockdown imminent here I reckon.

Also some suggestions that our Infection Medicine research facilities may be getting turned into temporary NHS support facilities.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 21, 2020, 09:45:52 AM
Further to that, if any of my fellow nerds are still looking to make themselves useful, you might want to sign up as a volunteer for this:

http://crowdfightcovid19.org/

Lots of universities involved, only Sheffield and York in the UK so far but I'm sure more will join.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Johnny Yesno on March 21, 2020, 11:10:48 AM
Been meaning to mention this for a while and now seems as good a time as any. If you have a university log-in, you should be able to access something called Box Of Broadcasts via LearningOnScreen. It's basically a repository of recordings from all major TV and radio stations, 24 hours a day going back a decade or so and includes films broadcast on those channels. Fantastic for binge watching/listening to series.

Yes, I've using it for some time and it's good once you work out how to get the most out of the search function, the filtering bit initially being hidden from view. Importantly, you don't need a TV license to watch anything on BoB.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 21, 2020, 11:15:35 AM
How did your interview go btw? Any possibility you could take the job in France when/if this all blows over?

Wasn't an interview, merely a "raising awareness" exercise. They would be happy to have me, but coronavirus has hit everyone. Anyway, he asked me to send CV and details of a project I wish to collaborate on to him and his colleague I also know. His colleague was interested and pointed me in the direction of some open positions in Montpellier.

I'm ok out of work for a bit, but it doesn't look good. Worst case scenario - "Explain any gapes in your CV" CORONAVIRUS BASTARD.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Johnny Yesno on March 21, 2020, 11:21:30 AM
Meanwhile, the dean has put out an email asking people to stop looting their offices of their PCs and monitors -- apparently security is having a field day nabbing people who are loading up their cars with uni equipement to work from home. It's not funny, but the thought of a bunch of tweedy looters is making me laugh.

Heh! Yesterday was a good day to be a looter. My workplace is now closed to all but essential staff.

However, our employers have responsibilities to take reasonable steps to make sure we can use DSE in compliance with health and safety regulations (and GDPR, for that matter). Thankfully, as long as we tell our managers what we've taken, we can take what we need. This is sensible.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 21, 2020, 11:22:35 AM
Further to that, if any of my fellow nerds are still looking to make themselves useful, you might want to sign up as a volunteer for this:

http://crowdfightcovid19.org/

Lots of universities involved, only Sheffield and York in the UK so far but I'm sure more will join.

Thanks, done. Also sent it to a colleague who works with phages, but I guess any little knowledge/skill or activity can potentially help.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 22, 2020, 12:48:03 AM
At werk on Sunday. Quite pissed off because I strongly suspect that we'll be on lockdown from Monday and there'll be no point in me continuing a time-consuming experiment with expensive human cells when I'll just have to bin it the next day.

Got an email with an update for all staff and students: Admin staff- werk from home, you'll be fine; Students- you can access your lectures online- don't worry, stay safe; Lab-based researchers- we appreciate that you all just want to get on with your experiments- oh FUCK OFF, right now I'd be happy to let the whole lot burn.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on March 23, 2020, 12:54:21 PM
So we were due to be doing half day shifts in my team at uni (well, half of us as the other half are having to self-isolate already). My colleague was in this morning and I was due to do the afternoon shift.

But then Mrs Alberon came down with a virus (not seriously ill, thankfully) so I’m on lockdown for two weeks. Now our boss has abandoned the half day plan as virtually no one else is in which makes our job pointless. So we’re all working from home for however long this goes on.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 23, 2020, 01:01:05 PM
A lot of international alpha smart men are already talking about the forthcoming conference in the Swiss alps being done virtually. I don't know where they get the energy.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 23, 2020, 10:33:47 PM
Had an email advising that our liquid nitrogen plant rooms will be shut down, because no-one is supposed to go into one of those things alone and that makes them impossible to operate while practicing social distancing. That's us cell culture peeps rendered utterly useless then, but still waiting to be told we can stay at home.

One of the profs here tried to keep his group coming in but allegedly there was something of a mutiny where everyone put their foot down and he eventually caved in. I'm in a much smaller group with a more junior PI who is understandably more worried about publications and grant application deadlines the REF, but those will all be getting put back, I'm sure.

Thankfully I have a bit of a cough right now- probably not the 'vid but it's enough to keep me at home.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on March 23, 2020, 10:37:49 PM
Did you not get the 5.22 email saying that only essential services are running from tomorrow?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 23, 2020, 10:41:09 PM
Did you not get the 5.22 email saying that only essential services are running from tomorrow?

Nope, got one at 5.33 saying the main library will be closing but no major announcements after that! Will check the Covid-19 page on the site now...
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 23, 2020, 10:44:31 PM
Nope, got one at 5.33 saying the main library will be closing but no major announcements after that! Will check the Covid-19 page on the site now...

Christ sake BJ, do you wait for work to tuck you in at night before going to sleep?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on March 23, 2020, 10:48:26 PM
Nope, got one at 5.33 saying the main library will be closing but no major announcements after that! Will check the Covid-19 page on the site now...

Same one. Section under social distancing:

“ At this stage we can confirm that only “essential-services” should operate on campus from tomorrow. We recognise that this will require actions over the next 24 hours to support a safe transition.   
 
Essential services include campus-based research related to Covid-19 as well as services which support NHS clinical activities, our student accommodation, data centres and animal welfare.”

Maybe you support nhs clinical activities, but I have a feeling you don’t.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on March 23, 2020, 10:49:00 PM
(Not getting at you btw, the uni corporate messaging tends to look content free even when it isn’t)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 23, 2020, 10:52:27 PM
Christ sake BJ, do you wait for work to tuck you in at night before going to sleep?

Hahaha, kind of. It's the combination of working for a good but relatively junior PI who badly needs more publications and more funding and is panicking, and working at a research centre headed up by a prof who is trying to be stern and crack the whip in the face of all this and seems to think that closing would be an admission of defeat rather than common sense.

Thanks for the info there, greencalx, I checked the site and it mentioned the possibility of staff being temporarily redeployed to work of the same grade which can be done from home. I'd genuinely like to get put on coronavirus research duties though.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on March 23, 2020, 10:54:54 PM
Have you seen this: https://edinburgh.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/covid-19-testing-specific-expertise

Oh, and fuck the PI. (Not literally, of course). That’s their problem, not yours.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 23, 2020, 10:55:36 PM
Nah, my PI is actually a nice guy and a good boss in general. He's panicking because his other staff and students are high-risk and off work now, and he's got young kids, leaving me as the only one who can be in the lab for long periods of time. Priorities though- he needs to stop panicking and realise there's no point in werking now and go and enjoy some time at home with his family.

The Prof, on the other hand...

(Not getting at you btw, the uni corporate messaging tends to look content free even when it isn’t)

I know- and tell me about it: the first thing I do every morning when I get to werk is spend 5-10 minutes deleting all the pointless-looking emails, so there's bound to be some important ones I miss.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on March 23, 2020, 10:59:13 PM
I know- and tell me about it: the first thing I do every morning when I get to werk is spend 5-10 minutes deleting all the pointless-looking emails, so there's bound to be some important ones I miss.

The best one yet was the one entitled “student travel options” which announced the removal of an important travel service for staff.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 23, 2020, 11:03:49 PM
Oh yes, I think everything sent to the student mailing list goes straight to Trash, along with all the newsletters. No wonder I missed it.

I opted out of our social mailing list after about two weeks- no thanks, I don't want to buy a pair of size 4 stillettoes even if they are hardly worn, and I don't want two tickets for Clannad at the Usher Hall either.

Been here since 2011, email has always had a problem with the signal-to-noise ratio.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Dr Trouser on March 24, 2020, 08:33:24 AM
The Principal has sent out an email stating that we shouldn’t work this Friday or next Friday, turn off the computers and phones and do stuff with the family.

The academics are wrecked doing tutorials and labs via zoom all day, but things are holding together just.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 24, 2020, 09:19:01 AM
I'm kind of frozen, patiently waiting for my more senior collaborator in Canada to sign off on a first author manuscript submission, do I apply for that lectureship in Lahti, Finland which requires me to write a 4-7 page teaching portfolio, or do I try and edit the REF impact case study statement down from 15 pages to 4 when I know their draft is no way complete.

Or do I just watch some Law & Order SVU in my pyjamas
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 24, 2020, 09:31:23 AM
Workwise I've got fuck-all to do. Really hoping I get picked to do some Covid-19 research or some NHS volunteer work doing the testing, need to get my geek on.

In the meantime I've got my homebrew kit and I'll have some fun practicing a bit of aseptic technique with that later.

Also got my Arduino robot, think I'll get her out and see how I can reprogram her to do stupid stuff like flash up naughty words on her LED display.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 24, 2020, 09:38:52 AM
Some data from our Urban Observatory showing the effect of COVID-19 measures on foot and transport traffic in Newcastle

https://covid.view.urbanobservatory.ac.uk/#intro (https://covid.view.urbanobservatory.ac.uk/#intro)

and the Navy taking our PCR machines away...to Milton Keynes

(https://media-exp1.licdn.com/dms/image/C5622AQH6RMdNYLV0qg/feedshare-shrink_2048_1536/0?e=1588204800&v=beta&t=ewzsecTJoPVsQlHzkrT18-Ov3ZcyMEXK0TAQzyEAZXc)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 24, 2020, 09:58:52 AM
Kewl... and "Urban Observatory", I like that, sounds like a Hosegate coffee shop but it's something so much better.

Also kindly pull rank and tell those Navy bods to get a trolley. I know they're all dead strong and that but thinking about how much those machines cost is making me nervous.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 24, 2020, 11:17:56 AM
Kewl... and "Urban Observatory", I like that, sounds like a Hosegate coffee shop but it's something so much better.

Also kindly pull rank and tell those Navy bods to get a trolley. I know they're all dead strong and that but thinking about how much those machines cost is making me nervous.

From the photos, looks like we're sending about 8 or 9. Wonder if there will be provision for PhDs after this ends.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 24, 2020, 11:35:24 AM
NHS Lothian have assured us that all of our PCR machines will be returned in full working order or replaced with new ones, so yes.

Edinburgh have received £4.9 million of emergency state funding for coronavirus research so hopefully I'll get drafted in soon. Looks like they mainly want clinicians for the project though.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on March 24, 2020, 11:53:21 AM
Unusually, our Faculty Head has just emailed to thank everyone for being so flexible and turning teaching and assessment around so quickly and with such collegiate care. He noted that we are under intense psychological pressure and that we should not do more work than we can. If we feel stressed or anxious just down tools.

I'm amazed.

He might be a genius because it has had the affect of making me all productive and work happy today.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 24, 2020, 02:33:35 PM
The Finnish job is still on - but can I be arsed to complete the arduous application with only a minute chance of getting even an interview?

Advice, i.e. motivation, please
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on March 24, 2020, 02:34:49 PM
If you dont i'll look down on you.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Small Potatoes on March 24, 2020, 02:46:11 PM
REF postponed, then.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 24, 2020, 02:47:11 PM
REF postponed, then.

:)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 24, 2020, 02:47:41 PM
If you dont i'll look down on you.

Not difficult, I'm only 5'5'', Foz
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on March 24, 2020, 06:32:32 PM
Senior management has just sent all of us a link, demanding that we download and install Simple In/Out on our home PC or laptop or phone during the lockdown/work from home time -- basically a time clock 'for our safety and security' -- ie so they can see when we're online and what we're working on/looking at.

My response to my HoD: you can fuck that sky high.

My dept is having a similar response.

Senior management bought this shit literally yesterday afternoon, and without any reviews, testing, or moral compass, is making this demand.

Nope.

Of course, these are the same people who sent around an email Monday noting that as a result of the virus/lockdown, we're going to have to downsize, and people will be culled/forced into 'voluntary redundancy.'

At least wait until the corpse of the semester has actually fallen over and cooled off, first, you ghouls.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Small Potatoes on March 24, 2020, 06:35:28 PM
Senior management has just sent all of us a link, demanding that we download and install Simple In/Out on our home PC or laptop or phone during the lockdown/work from home time -- basically a time clock 'for our safety and security' -- ie so they can see when we're online and what we're working on/looking at.

Of course, these are the same people who sent around an email Monday noting that as a result of the virus/lockdown, we're going to have to downsize, and people will be culled/forced into 'voluntary redundancy.'


Fucking hell, mate - sorry to hear this, on both counts.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 24, 2020, 06:45:03 PM
Senior management has just sent all of us a link, demanding that we download and install Simple In/Out on our home PC or laptop or phone during the lockdown/work from home time -- basically a time clock 'for our safety and security' -- ie so they can see when we're online and what we're working on/looking at.

My response to my HoD: you can fuck that sky high.

My dept is having a similar response.

Senior management bought this shit literally yesterday afternoon, and without any reviews, testing, or moral compass, is making this demand.

Nope.

Of course, these are the same people who sent around an email Monday noting that as a result of the virus/lockdown, we're going to have to downsize, and people will be culled/forced into 'voluntary redundancy.'

At least wait until the corpse of the semester has actually fallen over and cooled off, first, you ghouls.

We could start a virtual University. Open-source, free, inclusive and diverse.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on March 24, 2020, 07:24:48 PM
Sign me up!

Cab University.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on March 24, 2020, 10:20:59 PM
Fucking hell, mate - sorry to hear this, on both counts.

Cheers -- on the positive side, my dept's gone mental on the idea of downloading that crap onto our home computers/phones, etc, if the email thread in response to it is any indication.

Considering how much extra work we're all doing on top of the usual chores to maintain any semblance of a semester, it's downright insulting that senior management assumes we're all skiving since we don't have to be on campus.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 24, 2020, 10:23:43 PM
Sign me up!

Cab University.

What will your contribution be?

Our Engineering, Maths, Town Planning, Biochemistry and History departments are full
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Small Potatoes on March 24, 2020, 11:00:00 PM
Surely there has to be room for a postcolonial literary theorist in this new post-pandemic educational institution. I can’t provide anything actually useful, but I can bang on about Frantz Fanon for fuckin’ hours.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 25, 2020, 09:20:07 AM
Sign me up too! I'm a life scientist, so can I be head of the the Department for Mental Illness, Baldness and Phimosis Research?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on March 25, 2020, 09:40:23 AM
What will your contribution be?

Our Engineering, Maths, Town Planning, Biochemistry and History departments are full

Custodian?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on March 25, 2020, 12:56:42 PM
Senior Management have finally replied to the burning pitchforks and angry peasants (our response basically to the spyware) -- it's only for those campus bods who would otherwise have to work on campus, and not meant for teaching and researching staff.

Uh huh. Right. That was NOT the email that was sent originally: it was that we all had to do it.

Also, zippitey do dah from them about not withholding strike days wages (many universities are waiving the wage-docks). Of course we'll have our wages for striking docked.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: fatguyranting on March 25, 2020, 02:01:19 PM
I'm half way through a creative taught MA and the pressure on the academic staff to keep things turning over with distance learning is obviously intense. To the point where I'm more stressed by the panic soaked emails from the course leader than I am the risk of gasping to death as a result of the the virus. I get a strong sense people are terrified that students will be looking for fees back along the line. The sad thing (not a massive issue in the grand scheme of things I know) is that most of us only did the course in the first place as it offered the chance of networking with publishers, agents and the like and that's all gone now.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 25, 2020, 02:07:14 PM
I've let the genie out of the bottle and the RA's are considering righting a co-signed letter to the University asking for 6 month employment relief (i.e. contract extension) to tide us over until the job market picks up again
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Dr Trouser on March 25, 2020, 02:09:07 PM
I've let the genie out of the bottle and the RA's are considering righting a co-signed letter to the University asking for 6 month employment relief (i.e. contract extension) to tide us over until the job market picks up again

good idea, but get an arts graduate to check the spelling and grammar
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 25, 2020, 02:15:11 PM
good idea, but get an arts graduate to check the spelling and grammar

fucking hell - mind GONE
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on March 25, 2020, 02:29:24 PM
No meetings, nothing much coming in on email. We were supposed to end teaching this week anyway.

Starting to think that this is now a paid jolly, something I have never been able to take advantage of after many years of freelance wok.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on March 25, 2020, 02:35:07 PM
No meetings, nothing much coming in on email. We were supposed to end teaching this week anyway.

Starting to think that this is now a paid jolly, something I have never been able to take advantage of after many years of freelance wok.

I would be so, so happy to be in that position...we're still teaching through to the end of next week. Fuck knows when assignments are actually supposed to come in now, as the deadlines have been changed what feels like 20 times so far, and students are being allowed extensions with no supporting evidence for need. We've been warned we might be marking stuff for this semester clear into August if not next semester, if you consider resubs and extensions.

My inbox remains absolutely nuts with stuff from colleagues, admins, senior management, and students. A lot of it is people hitting 'reply all' though, and people sending emails to their seminar groups on Canvas but actually sending them to everyone on that Canvas module because they don't know how to focus or limit their emails (I cannot imagine what my inbox would look like if I hadn't turned off 99% of Canvas's settings).

I'm half way through a creative taught MA and the pressure on the academic staff to keep things turning over with distance learning is obviously intense. To the point where I'm more stressed by the panic soaked emails from the course leader than I am the risk of gasping to death as a result of the the virus.

I empathise. I feel more stressed out trying to hold my classes together than I do being worried about getting virus'd up  or Mr Attila's contract going tit's up (he's independently contracted as an electronics engineer) in the next week or so.

I've been spending more time online in the past 10 days, and writing so much in terms of a constant stream of rah rah emails to students, and fielding the 9 billion emails from colleagues and managers, that it's like, 'If only I got the corovid, I could legitimately take a few days off.' Although knowing my university, they'd sack me for slacking.

Our management is worried as fuck about recruitment and how all of this is going to impact tuition income. Yet more talking about downsizing and redundancy. Yeah that makes me want to work even harder on their behalf.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Endicott on March 25, 2020, 02:43:04 PM
Sign me up!

Cab University.


What will your contribution be?


Wanking tutorials?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 25, 2020, 02:48:41 PM


Wanking tutorials?

Livestream or Dripfeed?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on March 25, 2020, 02:57:08 PM
Attila, this is a major shift in the way everyone lives. Please don't get stressed about delivering some notion of a proxy perfect course during these times.

Everyone has to adjust, including your students, your line managers, and you.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Dr Trouser on March 25, 2020, 04:08:56 PM
UKRI is in a strange place at the moment, have had many calls this week;

Research Councils - 'we need more money to look at the science of CV19'
Innovate UK - 'fuck off we're manufacturing ventilators and giving R&D money to companies to help them stay afloat, stick your microscope up your arse'

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on March 25, 2020, 05:17:51 PM
Attila, this is a major shift in the way everyone lives. Please don't get stressed about delivering some notion of a proxy perfect course during these times.

Everyone has to adjust, including your students, your line managers, and you.

<3

Appreciated, honestly. I think my dept for the most part has been amazing in the transition.

My HoD just sent around a summary today of a big faculty meeting -- he summed up all of these insane coro intitatives with 'Stay frosty everyone, take breaks, get some rest - the main thing we need to do right now is get to the end of next week [ie end of term].'
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 26, 2020, 05:59:33 PM
Still not heard the outcome of that job interview I had just over a week ago now. Got no idea if that's bad news or good news. Whatever, it doesn't seem important right now.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 26, 2020, 06:23:40 PM
Still not heard the outcome of that job interview I had just over a week ago now. Got no idea if that's bad news or good news. Whatever, it doesn't seem important right now.

Zilch for my outstanding applications. I think, yes, they may be taking stock
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 26, 2020, 07:05:29 PM
Yes, I was told the latest start date for this position would be in July, but that’s not going to happen. I'm wondering if the funding body have postponed the start date, or HR are a bit too short-staffed to make offers or rejections, or if the PU has been forced to sack the whole thing off. Whatever, it was a useful experience and nice to "meet" some new people and talk science, I guess.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Norton Canes on March 26, 2020, 07:26:45 PM
Lent my services to answering queries to the coronavirus@ mailbox over the last few days. Exoected to be fielding a lot of worried messages from prospectively infected students and staff but instead it's swamped by complaints that we"re not refunding tuition or accommidation fees.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 27, 2020, 01:51:38 PM
Just got this on the Teams group

Quote
Don't suppose you heard the news from Uni of Sussex? Their VC sent an email to all HoDs and budget holders to not renew contracts. I've just learnt today another uni is doing the same...

Sound like that could be Attila's uni...lol (not trying to Doxx you)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on March 27, 2020, 01:59:35 PM
Our head of dept has sent out an email saying (paraphrased) "I never thought I'd say this. Pull down the blinds! I'm closing the building, for an hour". A small number of "essential" people can get in, which is basically someone to reboot the servers if they go down, and the people making parts for ventilators and decontaminating face masks.

Judging by the comments here and elsewhere on the internet, it seems that my department is unusually sane and people-focussed. Which is ironic, given that our discipline has a reputation for attracting people with no social skills (like me).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on March 27, 2020, 10:57:41 PM
Just got this on the Teams group

Sound like that could be Attila's uni...lol (not trying to Doxx you)

Heh, no, that's not me. Although our SM sent around an email to the students late this afternoon that they could rejoice, as all of the books in the library are now coverted to ebooks.

They are not ebooks; maybe a quarter of our holdings are.


 
Lent my services to answering queries to the coronavirus@ mailbox over the last few days. Exoected to be fielding a lot of worried messages from prospectively infected students and staff but instead it's swamped by complaints that we"re not refunding tuition or accommidation fees.

I've been looking through the dissertations that have been submitted, and one of them was accompanying by a lengthy complaint from a student that between the strike and the corovirus, this semester has been a shambles and that it's not fair he was asked to submit his dissertation, and he should get a first and all of his tuition back.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 28, 2020, 12:35:10 AM
Embra have sent out an email advising that they have "paused all recruitment for the time being". That may be the case at many other universities, and may explain why I (and Blodders) haven't heard from the ones that have just interviewed us.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Dr Trouser on March 28, 2020, 06:23:25 AM
Pretty much all unis are on a recruitment freeze now. The Russell Group have already been lobbying the Research Councils to pay directly to cover their research staff. Given that research staff don’t fall into the chancellor’s financial support for self employed or employed then this would be a good use of RC funds. However it’s highly likely most unis would take this (and the piss ) and not renew contracts anyway.

A lot of unis will go under because of this. Given that some VCs have the financial nous of an angel delight and a massive ego they’re not in great shape to weather this.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on March 28, 2020, 10:07:57 AM
I'm due to finish my PhD next year. What awful timing!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 28, 2020, 11:16:19 AM
Pretty much all unis are on a recruitment freeze now. The Russell Group have already been lobbying the Research Councils to pay directly to cover their research staff. Given that research staff don’t fall into the chancellor’s financial support for self employed or employed then this would be a good use of RC funds. However it’s highly likely most unis would take this (and the piss ) and not renew contracts anyway.

A lot of unis will go under because of this. Given that some VCs have the financial nous of an angel delight and a massive ego they’re not in great shape to weather this.

I get jobs.ac.uk alerts daily for engineering, mathematics and bioscience positions - it seems there are so few jobs that most of them are advertised in all three categories and some even are repeated just so it looks like the market it still active

I'm fucked
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: idunnosomename on March 28, 2020, 11:27:53 AM
I'm due to finish my PhD next year. What awful timing!
yes you should have finished it well before 2008 really
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on March 28, 2020, 11:30:47 AM
Can university people get real jobs?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on March 28, 2020, 11:40:48 AM
yes you should have finished it well before 2008 really

Definitely! I can't help but think that what's about to come will make us long for the ravages of the 2010s. I've only been a teaching assistant since 2018 and there's been a palpable decline in the university in that time.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on March 28, 2020, 11:51:20 AM
I got my PhD in 1996.

I managed to get a proper full time post (after years of adjuncting, temp teaching, &c) in 2012.

Good times.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on March 28, 2020, 12:15:34 PM
We’re actually holding interviews on Monday. With teaching and research talks and everything. All online. Will be interesting.

Blue Jam, I had to be a downer but I’m afraid universities are absolutely terrible at getting in touch with you if you’ve been unsuccessful. It’s possible that things are slow because of the vid, but just as likely they’ve offered it to someone else and are waiting for them to accept before notifying the others.

When I was applying for jobs I’d have much preferred to have known quickly that I wasn’t the first choice candidate. If an offer later came my way I don’t think I’d have been too proud to accept. But for some reason recruiters seem to think that no news is better than bad news.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 28, 2020, 12:32:05 PM
Can university people get real jobs?

Dad? Is that you? Risen from the grave to reprimand me again?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 28, 2020, 12:36:05 PM
We’re actually holding interviews on Monday. With teaching and research talks and everything. All online. Will be interesting.

Blue Jam, I had to be a downer but I’m afraid universities are absolutely terrible at getting in touch with you if you’ve been unsuccessful. It’s possible that things are slow because of the vid, but just as likely they’ve offered it to someone else and are waiting for them to accept before notifying the others.

When I was applying for jobs I’d have much preferred to have known quickly that I wasn’t the first choice candidate. If an offer later came my way I don’t think I’d have been too proud to accept. But for some reason recruiters seem to think that no news is better than bad news.

It's a fucking shame. My first two applications (Glasgow and Cranfield) I got interviews (and fucked them), now Essex, Wolverhampton, Surrey have 'no replied' although to be fair its not long after the deadline for the latter two. The disparity between applications is astonishing, Wolverhampton was barely a two page resume, whereas places like EAWAG, that Finnish one and the North American ones are akin to writing a thesis. Sacked the Finnish one off as they wanted 7 pages teaching portfolio - I'm a researcher with lots of supervision experience but little lecturing experience - at least none with feedback etc.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on March 28, 2020, 12:42:07 PM
Yeah the US is particularly bad for wanting long, bespoke applications if my twatstream is anything to go by. They also tend to ask for references upfront, meaning that referees get bombarded with requests from applicants (which is not their fault).

UK is usually reasonably sane in this regard - typically a couple of pages to demonstrate you have ideas for new research, and another couple to show you can, at least in theory, give a shit about not totally fucking your teaching up.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on March 28, 2020, 01:27:22 PM
Blue Jam, I had to be a downer but I’m afraid universities are absolutely terrible at getting in touch with you if you’ve been unsuccessful. It’s possible that things are slow because of the vid, but just as likely they’ve offered it to someone else and are waiting for them to accept before notifying the others.

Yeah, I figured this might be the case. Oh well, no chance of me relocating any time soon and I like Edinburgh.

Today I got another email about volunteering to do Covid-19 testing for the NHS, and a form to fill in to specify my preferred choice of lab, how many shifts I can do and for how long etc, so hopefully I'll soon have something to do besides brewing beer, drinking beer and watching Seinfeld. If they issue me with a sexy hazmat suit I'll post a pic.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: dr beat on March 28, 2020, 01:34:12 PM
Quote
Yeah the US is particularly bad for wanting long, bespoke applications if my twatstream is anything to go by. They also tend to ask for references upfront, meaning that referees get bombarded with requests from applicants (which is not their fault).

UK is usually reasonably sane in this regard - typically a couple of pages to demonstrate you have ideas for new research, and another couple to show you can, at least in theory, give a shit about not totally fucking your teaching up.

At my Uni we have gone down the route of US-style interviewing, which entails a full 2 days where shortlisted applicants have to meet with staff one-and-one, teach to student volunteers on top of the usual research presentation and standard panel interview.  Before that longlisted applicants have to have short Skype interviews just to get anywhere near the final interview stage. 

The whole recruitment process takes several months now, and while it must be exhausting for those shortlisted, its also a lot of work for us in the dept.  One of my senior colleagues who was on the same interview panel as me remarked that the two final candidates were the obvious two best without all the extra faffing.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on March 28, 2020, 01:52:50 PM
That’s sad to hear. Again I think my dept seems to be an oasis of sanity compared to what I hear about elsewhere. Yes we have our gripes and grumbles, but then we always do.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 28, 2020, 01:56:21 PM
At my Uni we have gone down the route of US-style interviewing, which entails a full 2 days where shortlisted applicants have to meet with staff one-and-one, teach to student volunteers on top of the usual research presentation and standard panel interview.  Before that longlisted applicants have to have short Skype interviews just to get anywhere near the final interview stage. 

The whole recruitment process takes several months now, and while it must be exhausting for those shortlisted, its also a lot of work for us in the dept.  One of my senior colleagues who was on the same interview panel as me remarked that the two final candidates were the obvious two best without all the extra faffing.

"Just gis a job, eh!"
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 29, 2020, 12:24:13 PM
just took another look on jobs.ac.uk - most of the positions seem now to be non-UK.

Saw one for Bioprocess Engineering in Adelaide - looked good until

Quote
Using your excellent communication, project management, and leadership skills you will be expected to develop multi-disciplinary research activities across the University and internationally, leveraging your Bioprocess engineering expertise in fields which may include but is not limited to therapeutic proteins, vaccines, industrial enzymes, or DNA vaccines.

jumping on the coronavirus bandwagon? Maybe one for BlueJam?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on March 29, 2020, 12:25:08 PM
Quote
Using your excellent

Fucked then.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 29, 2020, 09:46:33 PM
Fucked then.

I am sure you excel at many things Foz. It could be something as simple as nestling.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on March 29, 2020, 09:47:48 PM
Shit sorry.

You're fucked then*
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on March 30, 2020, 10:25:48 AM
Found one for you Foz

Quote
Deadline
30 Apr
Rønde, Department of Bioscience - Wildlife Ecology
Postdoc position in parrot communication
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on March 30, 2020, 10:28:37 AM
Postdoc position in parrot communication?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Dr Trouser on May 04, 2020, 02:10:40 PM
Uni bail out https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-support-package-for-universities-and-students

haven't gone through it all in detail but this stuck out;

The OfS is proposing a new temporary condition for registered higher education providers in England, allowing it to intervene if universities and colleges act in ways which puts at risk students’ interest

maybe i'm paranoid but is this the start of gov trying to influence any independence left in the sector - bear in mind the SNP gov tried to invoke a law that let them choose the Principals/VCs of Scottish Universities.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on May 11, 2020, 01:32:29 PM
So with the ultra-clear new lockdown instructions from Johnson where is everyone now?

My university, where I'm in facility management, furloughed me until the end of May and possibly to the end of June. They'll need us back in when they do open up the campus again, but god alone knows when that wil be.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on May 11, 2020, 02:38:47 PM
Edinburgh have a "Town Hall meeting" starting in a bit, where I assume we're going to find out what is going on.

It looks like my department will be reopening in mid-June but the majority of staff will still be working mostly from home and us lab rats will only be going into the lab for about an hour a day, at staggered times so we can work alone. The shared offices will all be closed and I don't know how I'm going to process my massive data files without my big powerful custom-built computer. Not sure how I'm going to work with liquid nitrogen either, that's always a two-man job.

I am part of a small lab group where I'm the only one who doesn't have young children, elderly relatives or an underlying health condition, which means Muggins Here will probably be kept quite busy. Also the university don't want us using buses or doing car shares, so my only option is walking, which would take me too long, or cycling, which frightens the piss out of me.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on May 11, 2020, 02:39:03 PM
I'm still in the semester that will not end -- I've got about 10 days til my exams start and I get hit with the next batch of marking (two big exams, and two sets of assignments). Then of course there are all the resits and resubs in July. I can see myself still marking stuff from this semester clear into the autumn at this rate.

I said this in another thread, but our VC is overjoyed at the PM's speech last night, sent around an email in comic sans that she hopes we'll be able to get the campus open and running again. Terrifying email, terrifying woman. Of course, senior management scurried off campus like rats off a sinking ship two weeks before they let anyone else do it.

The autumn plan(s) are a clusterfuck in the making. The uni is desperate to assume we'll open as normal, but have sent around to us the possible scenarios:

*open as if nothing has happened, face to face teaching as usual.

*open as if nothing has happened, have to shift online quickly again in mid-semester if there ia fresh outbreak

*open as if nothing has happened, some lectures delivered live, some online, some recorded; some seminars live, others virtual through teams or canvas.

*open as if nothing has happened, but practice social distancing -- involves recording something things, meeting virtually in others, but as much face to face as possible -- which means having to teach multiples of the same lecture/seminar as we can't have more than 16% of our students in the same room at the same time. No additional hours are being factored in, although this scheme will probably mean us teaching on campus 5 days a week between 9 and 6, and possibly into the evening. Considering that I am slated to have three full-on modules, two sections of weekly writing workshops with my dissertation students, various lectures given on modules where I team teach, and fucknoes wherelse they will plug me in, I can see having no time to mark papers or prepare lectures (I'm teaching three new modules next year and revising three others due to revalidation). It's fucking mental -- as mentioned in the other thread, we already have way too many students for campus classroom space.

*only teach Year 2 and 3, and delay Year 1 til January

* delay the full start of the academic year til January.

My money is on the absolutely worst possible choice, as senior management excel as working us into the ground and crushing any morale that we might show signs of. Everyone worked balls to the wall when we went online in the last three weeks of the semester, and all we got in return from senior management was a sniffy response, and orders that if we don't get recruitment up, they're going to start culling staff.

I know the VC and them are desperate to get us back to live Open Days, as well.

Just saw Blue Jam's post -- yeah, they don't want us on public transportation, either. I take the train as it's 15 miles to get to my campus. Ad even if I drove, I'd have to go to a Park and Ride and catch that bus. I'm in a small programme where three of the 7 of us actually live in England; the others are in Ireland or on the continent at the moment. Of the three of us in England, I'm the only FT person as they other two are part time. And I live the closest. So I can see a fuckton of stuff being dumped on me, as well.

My head of dept is a reasonable person, however, and I suspect he's going to continue to urge us to meet via Teams and that. I hope so, anyway!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on May 11, 2020, 02:54:38 PM
I've ordered a hi-vis vest and backpack and am going to give my bike a bit of a tune-up. There are two cycle paths I could use to get to werk, with a bit of road connecting them, so I could just walk my hike along that bit.

I'm a wuss, I know, but just before I left London a driver deliberately rammed me off my bike and fled the scene and I've been scared of cycling on roads ever since. It doesn't matter how careful or experienced you are when just one twat like that exists.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on May 11, 2020, 03:58:41 PM
Mmm, yummy -- long, detailed, multi-layered bullet-pointed email just now from the dean about recruitment, about financial issues, and about teaching online in the autumn.

Cool part is how, quietly embedded in this email, is the omnious 'we are looking into how to relief financial issues by looking at where we can cut staffing.'

It's subtle, and it's deeply buried inside one of his very long bullet points.

Great.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on May 11, 2020, 04:01:45 PM
Just heard lots of stuff about how the building I work in is now a "Covid Hub" and how we'll need to separate the Covid researchers from us non-Covid researchers.

Preparing to get massively lorded over in a few weeks' time.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Dr Trouser on May 11, 2020, 04:16:17 PM
We're starting furloughing this week, not sure it applies to many staff though. We're not in any massive building programmes (that aren;t underwritten by ScotGov) so there's less panic than others. Hearing rumours about Glasgow being in a bit of difficulty but we'll see how that plays out.

No immediate plans to reopen campus yet but I guess all Scot Unis will be in sync soon enough (apart from HIU maybe).

 
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Norton Canes on May 11, 2020, 04:17:02 PM
I don't know how I'm going to process my massive data files without my big powerful custom-built computer

This is the big problem for me, I do development work so have a machine on campus with commensurate power but the PC I've got at home is slow AF so the work takes far longer to do.

Also the university don't want us using buses or doing car shares

Ours has spent the best part of the last couple of years encouraging car shares and the use of public transport by massively ramping up their on-campus parking fees. Post-lockdown they've put all fees on hiatus but can't see them remaining at zero when hundreds of employees start driving their cars in again.

Just heard lots of stuff about how the building I work in is now a "Covid Hub" and how we'll need to separate the Covid researchers from us non-Covid researchers.

Preparing to get massively lorded over in a few weeks' time

So many office spaces in the older buildings here will be massively and irrevocably unfit for purpose if the Uni adhere strictly to safe working guidelines. No chance of two-metre spacing around desks or individual work separated by screens. Got a horrible feeling that what they'll do is commandeer the biggest indoor open spaces they've got, like the Great Hall, and pack as many partitioned worker-cells in there as possible.

No word yet from the top brass on exactly how they intend to progress things, though.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on May 11, 2020, 04:29:59 PM
I need a computer that can process very large image files (confocal Z-stacks) without crashing. I'm used to one with 64Gb of RAM. My creaky old machine with a paltry 8Gb just won't cut it.

Got a horrible feeling that what they'll do is commandeer the biggest indoor open spaces they've got, like the Great Hall, and pack as many partitioned worker-cells in there as possible.

Ooooh, I'd love a desk in McEwan Hall...
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on May 11, 2020, 04:45:35 PM
We've been told that if we have to have social distancing on campus, then we can fill classrooms only to 16% capacity. So, a class of 100 students? Will need 7 classrooms that fit 100 students...we have exactly 10 classrooms on the entire campus that would meet that criteria. Everything else are much smaller rooms made for 10-40 students.

The dean's email seems to be pretty much saying that the autumn term will be taught online -- as much as a faff that that will be (and a bummer for the Year 1s, as face to face interaction is so important for them in the first semester), I'd rather just bite the bullet and do our classes online, than have the lectures be online, but we have to go onto campus for the smaller seminars. With my commute, that would pretty much be me going to campus as usual (due to my commuting situation, I'm usually on campus by 730) and staying all day -- doing lectures online from my office, then faffing off to seminars in person. It would get old really fast. I've got colleagues with insane commutes, as well, who live in town 1-3 days out of the week, then go back to wherever. A couple of colleagues live in town during the week and commute back to Ireland or the continent every weekend; another one comes down here from Scotland every week. Loads of them from London.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Capt.Midnight on May 11, 2020, 04:56:25 PM
2nd line IT tech - Most of our work requires physically being at the PC or configuring the networks, so we’ve been remoting from home and helping other departments. I managed to rescue someone’s PhD from their on campus PC, so that was interesting. Unfortunately the IT contractors the university employed were told that their contracts were not going to be renewed, so they only have a couple of weeks left. Pretty harsh given the circumstances and understaffed levels.

It sounds like we will eventually be returning to campus some days, then working from home on others. Which is perfect, as when the staff do return, there’ll be lots more we can do remotely from home.  Students not physically back until January.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on May 15, 2020, 07:59:41 PM
We just got the University's term plan for 2020-21. I think its genuinely insane.

It can be broadly summed up as:

(https://66.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lpzohnF3Bh1r0f0eko1_640.jpg)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on May 15, 2020, 11:44:02 PM
Sounds pretty much like m ine.

We've been told that, yes, we have to work a lot of extra hours because we have to do a mix of face to face and online teaching, and going over to online is going to be time consuming (especially as senior management expect us now to be monitoring emails and Canvas 24/7.) No, we're not having any more hours factored into our work load - we don't have to, say the senior management people. You see, everyone has an annual workload contract that includes 300, 400, or 500 hours for research -- so, yay! There's all those extra hours you need.

Yes, it's been pointed out to them that those research hours are generally taken up in the summer, and that you can't squeeze more than 24 hours into a day -- and that by their reckoning, it's not out of line to ask us to put in 60-70 hour workweeks during the semester instead of the usual 37.5 (a hahahaha) a week we're booked for.

What's really magical is the huge divide between someone like me, who's shackled to 4 or 5 modules every semester, and a colleague who maybe teaches on two per semester, both small groups of final year students in her fun time research speciality.

Oh, and we will be penalised if we don't keep up with research and public outreach, too.

And to add to the fun, apparently the union is making noises about additional industrial action.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on May 29, 2020, 01:34:27 PM
Was about to head out for a lovely picnic when I got summoned to a Zoom meeting to discuss the reopening of the lab. Fucksake. *video off* *beer open*
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Dr Trouser on June 09, 2020, 05:21:53 PM
Just heard that 3 Russell Group universities are about to announce large voluntary redundancy schemes, one in particular has a savings target of 100M as it seems they are in some trouble with the loss of international student fees.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Norton Canes on June 09, 2020, 05:51:58 PM
Yeah, very much the same picture at our not-quite-Russell-group Uni.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on June 09, 2020, 09:01:04 PM
My university is expecting a deficit of above £100m over the next three years. Rather than go straight to redundancies (voluntary or otherwise) upper management have started discussions on cost of living pay rise freeze for the next few years or a four day week (meaning only 80% pay before tax) for one year. Even with some form of wage cut there are going to be job losses by the end of the year.

I’m being unfurloughed in three weeks. We’ll be very busy from then and quite how working arrangements will change from social distancing I don’t know.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Utter Shit on June 09, 2020, 09:13:49 PM
Just heard that 3 Russell Group universities are about to announce large voluntary redundancy schemes, one in particular has a savings target of 100M as it seems they are in some trouble with the loss of international student fees.

Not sure if this has been mentioned already but Sussex did this a couple of weeks ago.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on June 09, 2020, 11:21:13 PM
Had a bizarre, lengthy and depressing meeting about our arrangements for resuming in the autumn. The sum of it is that we will need to implement a mix of face-to-face and online teaching (depending on government guidelines and more practical issues around social distancing etc), while the college hemorrhages money in the background.

We've talked about poor classrooms and buildings before, but I can't overstate how ill-suited most of our rooms are to any kind of social distancing, at least at 2 metres. It's no exaggeration to say it is one of the most beautiful campuses in the world, but the building in question is the exception.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on June 10, 2020, 07:15:56 AM
Had a bizarre, lengthy and depressing meeting about our arrangements for resuming in the autumn. The sum of it is that we will need to implement a mix of face-to-face and online teaching (depending on government guidelines and more practical issues around social distancing etc), while the college hemorrhages money in the background.

We've talked about poor classrooms and buildings before, but I can't overstate how ill-suited most of our rooms are to any kind of social distancing, at least at 2 metres. It's no exaggeration to say it is one of the most beautiful campuses in the world, but the building in question is the exception.

I suspect we're going to be subject to something similar -- senior management is determined to re open campus in the autumn, but to a mix of online and face-to-face classes. To keep student social distancing, face-to-face seminars will be spread out between 9 on Monday and 6pm on Fridays as much as possible -- meaning that I will probably have to be on campus five days a week pretty much all day, just to teach for an hour every day. I take the train to get to campus (about a three hour round trip due to faff and not being on a mainline station), so huzzah. If I'm going into campus, I end up staying all day because otherwise, it's a waste of a day work-wise just to go in 'for an hour' (plus I think Mr Attila prefers it when I'm not at the house).

They're also still banging on about doing a proper, live open day in July, the first one for the 2021 recruitment series, but I honestly don't see that happening.

We do not have the classroom space for proper social distancing. It's been more important to pay £millions for useless pretty non-teaching buildings, rebranding & marketing bullshit, and overinflated wages for the senior management and their underlings. Had this happened when I first started there, things might not have been quite so bad, but there's been a push to add more and more students every year. There were about 5K students when I started here, and sm's goal is to have 10K in the next two years or so -- with no additional classroom or office space. We were already seriously hurting with no space.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on June 10, 2020, 09:40:19 AM
I have that meeting today, with my main constraint the accreditation requirement (currently not dropped) we need to run > 300 hrs of labs for our students.

The online delivery isn't worrying me so much - it will require me to rerecord a LOT of lectures - but I will break them all up into 15-20 minute chunks. My 3rd year modules are for cohorts of ca. 30 and normally < 20* turn up, so I will end up with two sessions booked but likely the second one empty.

My 1st year module, with 200 students, on the other hand ...

On the money side, we won the first battle. We were told no casual contracts but we pointed out that almost all were to facilitate safe running of labs and they backed down across the board on that front. We've made a few wins for the department (found freeware software alternatives, got a 5 figure sum saved in the installation of some equipment), so that's looking healthier for us, maybe not in terms of absolute chunks of money saved, but that the department has made the effort.

I mean, next year is still going to be a horror-show but I think it is mostly changes that you can plan and prepare around. Some of my colleagues are really going to struggle - one managed to delete rather than download all submissions for their final year exam ...



*20 is the magic number - no sessions larger than 20 students next year as a cap on the 25 % capacity.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on June 10, 2020, 09:52:50 AM
I suspect we're going to be subject to something similar -- senior management is determined to re open campus in the autumn, but to a mix of online and face-to-face classes. To keep student social distancing, face-to-face seminars will be spread out between 9 on Monday and 6pm on Fridays as much as possible -- meaning that I will probably have to be on campus five days a week pretty much all day, just to teach for an hour every day. I take the train to get to campus (about a three hour round trip due to faff and not being on a mainline station), so huzzah. If I'm going into campus, I end up staying all day because otherwise, it's a waste of a day work-wise just to go in 'for an hour' (plus I think Mr Attila prefers it when I'm not at the house).

They're also still banging on about doing a proper, live open day in July, the first one for the 2021 recruitment series, but I honestly don't see that happening.

We do not have the classroom space for proper social distancing. It's been more important to pay £millions for useless pretty non-teaching buildings, rebranding & marketing bullshit, and overinflated wages for the senior management and their underlings. Had this happened when I first started there, things might not have been quite so bad, but there's been a push to add more and more students every year. There were about 5K students when I started here, and sm's goal is to have 10K in the next two years or so -- with no additional classroom or office space. We were already seriously hurting with no space.



A lot of this is very recognisable. The constant bombardment of emails we got about the new restaurant in the School of Business a few weeks before the virus hit seem even stupider with hindsight. In arts, we're hopelessly oversubscribed, but still teaching in the same building that's been used for the last fifty years. Over the last few years, some lectures have had to be held in a science building at the opposite end of the campus, often forcing students and staff to run between classes.

The issue with hours could be a real worry too, especially as there might be a limit to how many classes rooms can hold because it's been suggested that they may have to be thoroughly cleaned after each use. The college have mooted the idea that we will open until 9 or 10pm, but understandably, everyone has told them to piss off.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on June 10, 2020, 10:23:14 AM
We're reworking what we consider to be a contact hour.

However, the maths of my 1st year module is somewhat telling. If the most I can have in a room is 20, then I have to run 10 sessions a week to cover. IF I am allowed to sort out my own booking*, then I reckon student laziness with halve that figure but that's still mental.

*booking system to simply fill up as it goes along, first 20 to sign up get the first slot, second 20 and so on. Grouping and ending up with some groups of 20 and others of 1 or 2 and me having to be around for 2 days a week teaching one module ... not so good.

The biggest problem remains gash awful comms from the top. Students being told one thing, staff another and key bits of information being changed at the last minute. But at least they've dropped the [inset university name here] Tracker app - I cannot believe that one got off the drawing board.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on June 10, 2020, 10:54:55 AM
A lot of this is very recognisable. The constant bombardment of emails we got about the new restaurant in the School of Business a few weeks before the virus hit seem even stupider with hindsight. In arts, we're hopelessly oversubscribed, but still teaching in the same building that's been used for the last fifty years. Over the last few years, some lectures have had to be held in a science building at the opposite end of the campus, often forcing students and staff to run between classes.

The issue with hours could be a real worry too, especially as there might be a limit to how many classes rooms can hold because it's been suggested that they may have to be thoroughly cleaned after each use. The college have mooted the idea that we will open until 9 or 10pm, but understandably, everyone has told them to piss off.

Substitute 'sports' for 'science' building, and that's us under normal circs. Last autumn, I had a year 2 lecture group for an hour in a classroom in the history building, which is in one tucked away corner of the campus -- then we had 15 minutes to run to the farthest possible other corner of campus for the seminar in the sports building (a building that the majority of my students didn't even know existed). Surprise: I'd get about 30 on the lecture, and maybe 5 or 6 for seminar. When I asked if I could have the lecture room for two hours, so I could run my lecture and seminar back to back without a 20 minute jog in between, suddenly my attendance went up. Huh.

It's not the farthest possible split, as we also have a business/admin programme that's even more remotely placed than the sports building. Lockdown saved me from having a single-hour seminar meeting there the last three weeks of this past semester*

Ooooh, senior management have found the perfect solution for all of the extra hours we will need to pull all of this off: everyone is on a contract that gives them 300, 400, or 500 hours a year for research. So, next year, we get no 'research' hours, and can thus be loaded with an extra 300, 400, or 500 teaching hours during the semester.

Now, maths are not my strongest suit, but the research hours are meant to be spread out, usually, over the summer. So senior management is asking us to cram non-existent hours into the work week. To paraphrase Kylie the pigeon says in Mongrels, 'They did not think that through...'

More fun: The VC had a 'town hall' meeting a week or so ago on Teams; so many people tried to attend, that most people got locked out because Teams allows only so many participants at once.

We have a 'virtual Open Day' next week, and huzzah! Looks like several hundred people are planning to attend the big talks. On Teams. Where after about 100 people, everyone gets locked out. So today, the VC is holding a 'test' teams where they're going to see if 250 people can attend a single meeting, so they've asked all of us to join the meeting.

Clown cars operate more efficiently than this place.



*I say last three weeks, but in this new universe, the semester is still going on, into its 3547th week at this point, with no end in sight.



I mean, next year is still going to be a horror-show but I think it is mostly changes that you can plan and prepare around. Some of my colleagues are really going to struggle - one managed to delete rather than download all submissions for their final year exam ...

*20 is the magic number - no sessions larger than 20 students next year as a cap on the 25 % capacity.

For us, the magic number is 16 for some reason.

And I've got colleagues who are really struggling with doing everything online, as well.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on June 10, 2020, 11:06:22 AM
Quote
*I say last three weeks, but in this new universe, the semester is still going on, into its 3547th week at this point, with no end in sight.

LAST WEEK OF YEAR HERE got a party hat and all.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on June 10, 2020, 01:02:04 PM
Still marking exams here...normally, this would be our week of exam boards, but they're postponed til July now...plus they want to start the autumn term a week earlier than usual. Goody.

We've already got the shells for next year's Canvas modules (which normally don't appear til late August) -- but we've been told not to fill them in yet because the jury's still out on what autumn term is going to look like.

I want a party and a party hat, too.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on June 18, 2020, 04:38:30 PM
Looks like I'm officially back in the lab on the 29th, 'elf and safety peeps permitting.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on June 28, 2020, 04:42:13 PM
Good luck. We were back last week - popped in to check post and pick up some items. Lab needs a bit of a clean.

Where was I?

Oh yes, after maybe 2 months of back and forth about different term structures, we got informed that - actually - we have to stick to the one that was planned all along. Brilliant.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on June 28, 2020, 06:40:16 PM
My autumn term is going to be an absolute nightmare. No prizes for me for accurately predicting that my university would choose the worst possible option (a blend of live, sychronous, and asynchronous lectures/seminars. Everything has to be recorded, streamed, and close-captioned, as well). The cherry on the bun is that we're being vaguely threatened with redundancy if we are no 'delivering top quality experiences for the students online and on campus.'

Senior management have demonstrated repeatedly that each of them (there's only four of them plus a lot of toadies) that they have no clue how Teams or any of our intranet platforms work when it comes to streaming, &c. I understand one big Teams meeting broke up last week because someone 'accidently' seized control of the meeting, so the group was treated their their desktop until they just abandoned the meeting.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on June 28, 2020, 07:07:05 PM
Our higher ups have tried to propose something similar but they made the mistake of being on a Zoom meeting Q&A which revealed that they do not understand some of the most basic aspects of our IT system.

They have asked for stuff and we have basically laughed in their faces and said "ok, let's go with your idea for the Autumn term" with massive grins on our faces. They now realise it won't work but that we don't care. We aren't prepared to tell people on massive salaries why their ideas are so flawed and doomed to failure. 

The main topic of conversation amongst ourselves seems to be mainly about what career to go into after HE.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on June 29, 2020, 09:48:50 AM
We're going for the incoherent mix of online and in-person teaching, but much of it is dependent on whether two metre social distancing is still in place. Lectures are all almost certainly to be online only in the autumn, but the hope is that most tutorials will be able to take place in person if distancing requirements are reduced or removed. Third and fourth year seminars are fine because their class sizes are smaller anyway, masters classes are fine because their intakes are mostly comprised of overseas students who won't be willing or able to start this year and we've been told first years will be prioritised, so that just leaves us with the second-year classes that make up the vast majority of my work.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: monkfromhavana on June 29, 2020, 12:19:56 PM
As the uni I work out is largely online distance learning, I'm very lucky to have been insulated from all of this. The students that we have on physical campus sites have just switched to online mode.

I do think that trying to quickly get everything online is going to be trickier than people think. Teaching online is a lot different from classroom teaching and it takes quite a while to get it right. Plus you have to have a system where students can submit online, forums, libraries, check Turnitin scores, get marking sent out, award boards etc etc etc etc etc. then of course you will have a fair percentage of students disputing their grades, mitigating circumstances etc.

Putting all that in place takes time and money. At the HESA conference pre-COVID, there was a speech where some guy was basically going on about how over-dependent tradtional unis were on students coming from abroad and how that makes up around 70% of their income. Shit has well and truly hit the fan.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: pancreas on June 29, 2020, 12:59:45 PM
We aren't prepared to tell people on massive salaries why their ideas are so flawed and doomed to failure. 

This is basically all I do these days. If I can fit in any maths in between it's a sweet bonus.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on June 29, 2020, 01:21:09 PM
Cycled to werk today. Was a bit terrifying and I have discovered I'm horribly unfit but I made it. One-way system and building entry/exit system is a pain in the arse though.

I think we'll be alright for distance learning. Embra's IT departments are actually really good and I think we may have been early adopters of a lot of online systems.

I just hope I'm still here after December :(
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on June 29, 2020, 04:16:01 PM
On the one hand, we're being pressured to submit our detailed plans for how we plan to teach in the autumn, so that it can be submitted this week for review and put into an action plan for the dept next week.

On the other, the VC just wrote to say that the university will be doing two massive rounds of redundancies, one cull this week, and the other 'sometime in the autumn' depending on how many students actually show up.

Fabulous.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on June 30, 2020, 12:51:37 PM
That's my subject group role.

I think I'm being fair - these are the biggest issues, here's some solutions, get on it - but fuck me academics are a bunch of cats in a sack.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on June 30, 2020, 05:51:20 PM
We've just been told as a faculty that senior management intends to scythe us down with redundancies -- as many as they can before the end of July(end of fiscal year). They've drawn up a list of criteria that they say is 'objective and fair' about how they will determine who they will get rid of.

And on the heels of this horrible 'town meeting' explaining how all of us in my faculty have been marked as potential people to go (and ignoring hard-hitting questions as well as suggestions for smaller sacrifices that will help to save jobs), we've been sent a detailed 'action plan' on how next semester needs to be sorted, what's expected of us, and how we all need to pull together as a group at this difficult time.

There's a lot more, and much about how badly it's all being handled, but I'm too stressed out even to think about it just now. What a clusterfuck.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on June 30, 2020, 06:26:35 PM
christ.

I mean, its hard enough doing all this and dealing with 2020-21 without that threat.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on June 30, 2020, 06:39:40 PM
Sadly, it's not a threat. They presented us with a list of how many people have to go, dept by dept, in my faculty. Voluntary redundancies need to be made by 20 July. After that, they will simply choose who is going out, based on the 'criteria' -- which has nothing to do with one's area of teaching, how many modules one regularly teaches, how many students we already have on the books for our modules in the autumn. Decisions for compulsory redundancy will be made by 26 July, with the people out the door by the 31st. Three guesses when our fiscal year begins.

Oh, and then there will be a second round in late August when they have a better idea of how many students are returning.

I normally teach 5 modules every semester, and contribute bits to others; I have 15+ undergraduate dissertations to supervise next year. My students come to me from several different programmes across three departments. But because my programme has recruited 10% less students for 20/21 entry next year, I'm on the list of staff to axe. Over the course of next year that's 10+  modules and about 150 students affected (if you don't count the full cohorts on the big modules where we lecture to the entire cohort). Not to mention my career/vocation is gone.

My dept and the union have been engaged in emergency meetings all day today and more are scheduled tomorrow.

My head of dept couldn't really help us today, because he's also on the list of possible candidates. They're making no distinction -- ECRs, senior lecturers, readers, and professors were all summoned to this meeting today.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on June 30, 2020, 07:30:56 PM
In other news, a job interview that was indefinitely postponed back in February has now been confirmed for Monday!

A university is actually hiring for a new lecturer!

The pressure on my wife during my next haircut is going to be problematic.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Small Potatoes on June 30, 2020, 08:11:10 PM
I’m really sorry to hear this, Attila - sending some solidarity, for what it’s worth.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: dr beat on June 30, 2020, 08:54:16 PM
Hi Attila I'm also deeply sorry to hear this, sending my solidarity too.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on June 30, 2020, 09:00:43 PM
So sorry to hear this Atilla, strength to you x
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on June 30, 2020, 09:34:22 PM
Hope it all goes well.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on June 30, 2020, 09:53:32 PM
Shite. What a load of bollocks.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on June 30, 2020, 10:23:58 PM
Ta -- it's completely thrown my world in a sudden loop.  I'm not planning to volunteer for redundancy, so do I spend the rest of the month working as usual (on a book, and lesson plans for the autumn), or what? Plans for 'real world' spending and activities have to be curtailed since I have no idea what my financial furture will be after 31 July. I've been getting queries about speaking engagements and an autumn book launch (on campus, no less) -- do I accept? Ask them to wait til I know what's happening?

:(

And right after this meeting, we were all sent the big action plan for blended learning, recruitment/retention, and preparation on campus for social distancing/new lockdown contingencies. The timing was exquisite -- no one I know of is really motivated -- we've been balls to the wall finishing this semester and getting our students squared away, after pullnig out all the stops at the last minute to switch the rest of this semester to online, weeks of endless Teams meetings and reassuring students, and then this. Our union guy agrees that the tone and the timing of this is appalling. It's been just about 24 hours from the tonedeaf warning from the VC yesterday, to being summoned to this meeting this afternoon.

We've got Open Days this week and next -- this should be fun.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Braintree on July 01, 2020, 03:45:03 PM
Attila, that is rubbish. I was interested in the 10% fall in students, would this usually be made up in clearing ? Is the assumption that despite results releases carrying on as normal (I don't work in universities but I do work for an exam board which focuses on Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications) there will be no increase on applicants?

All the best. Universities are ruthless at the best of times. This is not the best of times.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Small Potatoes on July 01, 2020, 04:48:40 PM
That's my subject group role.

I think I'm being fair - these are the biggest issues, here's some solutions, get on it - but fuck me academics are a bunch of cats in a sack.

I was a Head of Department/Academic Manager for just over four years, and I feel your pain. It's the most stressful and horrific job I've ever done, tasked with enforcing endless policies which I knew were counterintuitive horseshit. Every single day was a battle between dogmatic, ill-informed senior management and experienced, intelligent academics (of which I considered myself one, but was repeatedly told that I was management now and my job was to get "these people" to just shut the fuck up and do as they're told). I got out two years ago on health grounds (chronic health issues, exacerbated by the demands of the role), got busted back down to private and have never been happier. My lecturer role is obviously precarious in the current circumstances, but I don't envy my replacement.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on July 01, 2020, 05:32:04 PM
Attila, that is rubbish. I was interested in the 10% fall in students, would this usually be made up in clearing ? Is the assumption that despite results releases carrying on as normal (I don't work in universities but I do work for an exam board which focuses on Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications) there will be no increase on applicants?

All the best. Universities are ruthless at the best of times. This is not the best of times.

We just received the list of criteria for redundancies (as in, how they will decide for us, if no one goes for the voluntary ones). It's based on a points system not unlike when I was applying to see if I were eligible for citizenship, and it is based exclusively on categories from our academic CVs from the 2019-2020 year. So points awarded based on how many modules we taught, how many we taught across other disciplines (ie, are you 'too specialised' and only teach classes in your department -- the more disciplines/departments you teach in, the more points you get), how many publications you got out last year, how much grant money you brought in last year (under £9999 and you get one point -- over £250,000, and you get 40 points), what committees are you on, how many professional development training sessions did you attend/lead/create, and what kind of outreach did you do (Open Days are worth less than school visits).

It's absolutely mental. Last year was quiet for me, because I was coming off 6 years of balls-to-the wall programme leadership, on a bunch of committees, doing all the Open Days, and got out a major publication. This year was left delliberately quiet by my HoD so that I could freshen up my lectures/classes, help prepare for a revalidation, finish a book, and get some grant applications out. So I look like a total slacker based on the criteria.

This has all been in the last 48 hours. We have until the 20th, as noted, to tell them if we want voluntary redundancy. At any time, we are encouraged to write directly to the DVC and explain why we (individually) shouldn't be made redundant -- yes, I'll write to her straight away and put the rat mask on another one of my colleagues.

I'm also irritated that I'm addressed repeatedly by my first name in this horrible letter they sent around today. We are not friends, and we are not on a first name basis.

The cherry on the bun was that this letter, detailing the redundancy scheme, the criteria for sacking us, what will happen if we don't 'choose wisely' (oh, and we can fill out a form to say we'd be interested in applying for our old job should it be listed again after the crisis has passed, so they know to contact us to put in an application) -- we get this email from the dean encouraging us to go to online teaching workshops and some links to good toolkits to use in the classroom for online teaching.

I'm not writing jackshit for any of my autumn modules until I know whether I'm being sacked or not. This is going to be a long month -- I don't dare spend any money except for absolute necessities, so fuck knows what to do as a distraction from all this.

Apologies, Braintree, I missed actually answering your question: there will be a second redundancy cull in August, once clearing is over, and they have a more up-to-date idea how many students will be attending either in the incoming cohort or returning students.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on July 01, 2020, 05:39:24 PM
Lol wtf 'too specialised'.

If I were to go to university to learn something, I wouldn't want some part timer who teaches a bit of geography, bit of Chaucer and a bit of 19th century British history.
Fucksake.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on July 01, 2020, 05:43:55 PM
The funny thing is, I do have a weird double area, two completely unrelated topics that I publish and do conferences on (and a lot of my public engagement is with the other discipline), but I focus only on one for some public engagement, my teaching and student stuff -- for precisely that reason (of not being too spread out across the discipline). They need me for Classics stuff, not for the rogue stuff I do on the side.

So, yup, I earn only 1 point for being 'too specialised' because I mainly teach Roman history (with a spattering of Late Antiquity/early medieval). Now, if I taught in four disciplines, I'd get a whopping 20 points for retention.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: monkfromhavana on July 01, 2020, 09:48:43 PM
I can't help but think that this is all working out very well for those people who just want universities to churn out huge amounts of lawyers and people trained in business-speak every year.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on July 01, 2020, 11:23:01 PM
It is zero coincidence that all of our marks and final results for students had to be turned in last Friday, and the initial announcement that they're culling staff came on Monday. The criteria (which runs to two pages of tables and charts) is way too detailed to have been thrown together over the course of the past two days (which they claim).

They've been planning this for ages. We had a round of redundancies last year, too, because our senior management has not been handling finances well during the good times, let alone being able to handle a crisis time.

I've been getting emails from students who are finding out via social media (as many colleagues are tweeting about the situation), and surprise, they're really upset.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Small Potatoes on July 01, 2020, 11:47:45 PM
(removed by request)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on July 02, 2020, 09:17:33 AM
Attila, this is crazy. You have my sympathy and solidarity.

I can't help but think that this is all working out very well for those people who just want universities to churn out huge amounts of lawyers and people trained in business-speak every year.

Indeed - this is where we're heading. Arts and humanities in particular are barely going to survive this pandemic.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on July 02, 2020, 01:08:02 PM
.

Bah, never mind, a bit too gloomy.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on July 02, 2020, 01:19:28 PM
Indeed - this is where we're heading. Arts and humanities in particular are barely going to survive this pandemic.

Don't go thinking STEM is safe either. Dundee and King's College London made a load of redundancies a few years back, again based on criteria that didn't make much sense. At KCL staff were given the chop if they hadn't brought in a certain amount of research funding, which meant people doing expensive research with mice and rats were fine, while people doing work on cultured cells, human tissue etc and who didn't need quite as much funding were effectively penalised for doing more cost-effective research.

Alright, there may be more funding for STEM subjects, but there are still plenty of people who see us as ivory tower-dwelling nerds obsessing over arcane stuff that has no application in the real world. Remember Vince Cable and his belief that all publicly-funded research should have a direct commercial benefit? That leaves no room for pottering about making serendipitous discoveries. Engineering aside STEM may also be fucked to some degree.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on July 02, 2020, 01:54:22 PM
...aaaaand just had the first email mentioning redundancies. Fucking great.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on July 02, 2020, 07:07:34 PM
Yeah. It was at the end of a long list of other things (no pay rises or promotions) so maybe it won’t come to that. I think the size of the hole is as yet unknown. Some sources tell me that application numbers aren’t looking too bad, but I think the worry is that we longer attract lots of lovely international student fees.

I’ll be stuffed if they go down the Attila style metrics route. I’ve not brought in a grant for nearly twenty years. (Ironically my latest set of rejected applications were all in the area of trying to extract signal from noisy data arising from human social interactions, something that suddenly everyone is trying to do...)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: dr beat on July 02, 2020, 07:14:05 PM
Yeah. It was at the end of a long list of other things (no pay rises or promotions) so maybe it won’t come to that. I think the size of the hole is as yet unknown. Some sources tell me that application numbers aren’t looking too bad, but I think the worry is that we longer attract lots of lovely international student fees.


I've been getting similar mood music from my end. Not too worried about 20/21, but I am concerned about how things might look 12 months from now.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on July 02, 2020, 07:46:35 PM
Don't go thinking STEM is safe either. Dundee and King's College London made a load of redundancies a few years back, again based on criteria that didn't make much sense. At KCL staff were given the chop if they hadn't brought in a certain amount of research funding, which meant people doing expensive research with mice and rats were fine, while people doing work on cultured cells, human tissue etc and who didn't need quite as much funding were effectively penalised for doing more cost-effective research.

Alright, there may be more funding for STEM subjects, but there are still plenty of people who see us as ivory tower-dwelling nerds obsessing over arcane stuff that has no application in the real world. Remember Vince Cable and his belief that all publicly-funded research should have a direct commercial benefit? That leaves no room for pottering about making serendipitous discoveries. Engineering aside STEM may also be fucked to some degree.


Absolutely - arts and humanities (now SHAPE - the way you want it to be) are bottom of the pile but you're not far above us. The way things are working in my institution is that the school of business is overtaking everything else as the university's priority.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Braintree on July 03, 2020, 05:45:59 PM
I can't help but think that this is all working out very well for those people who just want universities to churn out huge amounts of lawyers and people trained in business-speak every year.

Yep, my old university London Metropolitan, had a terrible reputation with quite a strong and respected History department. The issue was that international students do not come to universities like that to do History or any Humanities so it had to go.

The focus won't be on any particular area, just the most profitable. I got speaking to a delightful young man at my opticians, who was working there as a summer job but also studying ophthalmology who isn't expected back until January as the first semester is moving online. This is quite a practical course, I am not sure how successful that will be.

Atila and everyone I am obsessed with this thread because it has been so open and supportive. All I can do is wish you the best from afar
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: mjwilson on July 03, 2020, 05:54:09 PM
On the one hand, we're being pressured to submit our detailed plans for how we plan to teach in the autumn, so that it can be submitted this week for review and put into an action plan for the dept next week.

On the other, the VC just wrote to say that the university will be doing two massive rounds of redundancies, one cull this week, and the other 'sometime in the autumn' depending on how many students actually show up

Absolute rookie error to announce the second round before the first round is complete. Have they never done this before?

(Also my sympathies to you etc)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on July 03, 2020, 11:38:00 PM
Absolute rookie error to announce the second round before the first round is complete. Have they never done this before?

(Also my sympathies to you etc)

Factual answer to the question: Yep. Last spring they scythed through a couple of the other faculties on campus, forcing a ton of people into 'voluntary' and then compulsory redundancy. This time around, they're targeting all of the humanities programmes, even though we bring in something like 1/4 of the campus revenue and bodies.

If people don't take VR on this round by 20 July, then they will choose people to go by 26th July (based on a mental criteria as noted above, drawn from draft workload models for next year and from our CVs, apparently), with an exit date of 31 July.

That seriously cannot be legal. I mean, I don't know much about UK unions and employment stuff, but Mr Attila has been gobsmacked at the speed at which they plan to do this, and has been looking a lot of the legalities up online. I refuse to be sacked via email or Teams; if they want to cull me, they can make an appointment for a live meeting.

And then once they see how many students are actually returning in the autumn, they plan another round.

In the meantime, we keep getting emails telling us to go to blended learning training sessions. Fuck knows what we're supposed to be telling prospective students during the upcoming Open Days next week.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on July 04, 2020, 10:31:46 AM
Why do I look at uni email at the weekend.

Apparently we're being sent the 'official line' on what we're meant to say about the redundancy threat to prospective students and their parents during out Open Days next week.

So not only am I stressed out about the thought of losing my job and vocation in the new few weeks, I have to cheerfully discuss it with the same set of students I'm meant to be recruiting for the 2021 intake. 'Hey, cool, sure, I know you'd love to study X history with me when you come, but that may well not even be on offer any more after 31st July! ::thumbs up:: '

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Small Potatoes on July 04, 2020, 01:08:46 PM
Brace yourself for some HR-mandated variant of "we really appreciate your professionalism at this difficult time" ie. don't you fucking dare acknowledge, even obliquely, what a shower of cunts senior management are. Last time I went through this, various HR vermin were in attendance at Open Day to make sure we didn't say anything off-brand to students or parents.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on July 04, 2020, 03:58:58 PM
No worries - fully expecting that 'thanks for all your help' email -- we were getting that shit alternating with the 'Some of you will have to be let go for the greater good of the university emails. In the original email this week that laid out how many people are up for the chop (and that all of us are on the full list), the VC had the audacity to crow about how we've all been working so hard and what a spectacular amount of effort we put in during the lockdown weeks of the semester, and then through the exam and marking period.

I was talking to my colleague this morning, who's had to update our programme's Open Day PowerPoints as a colleague has already said, 'Fuck this' and resigned. So that's at least four modules on our programme next year that won't be on offer.

And, yep, we've been told that senior management or 'their assistants' may be popping into our Open Day Teams at any time in case students/parents have any questions. Uh huh, thanks.

My dept is putting together a load of documents with numbers and cashflow to show how much money we bring in as a dept with PGR students, MA students, grants (all of which was overlooked in the report they sent us about why the dept has to be slashed) -- it all looks fantastic, but my wager is that senior management will say, 'Sorry, but we can't count that, as it's speculative: the students might drop out, and you may not get the grants. Soz. LOL. &c.'
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: pancreas on July 05, 2020, 11:11:54 AM
If this were happening in our university we'd be at every entrance handing out leaflets to parents: 'WILL THERE BE ANYONE LEFT TO TEACH YOU NEXT YEAR?'. If they want to carry on like that, then burn it the fuck down [figuratively, of course].
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on July 06, 2020, 03:48:41 PM
Annnnd the email came thing morning thanking us for all of our hard work over the Open Day from a senior manager -- they asked us who worked it to email them and let them know how it went because 'I don't participate in the Virtual Open days, just the ones on campus.'

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Dex Sawash on July 28, 2020, 06:10:53 PM

News from the local covidersity

Quote
As of right now, UNC-Chapel Hill plans to allow full capacity in dorm buildings. That could mean as many as eight students sharing one suite.     

2 to a room, 8 share a toilet room in the most common housing arrangement.

Duke University is housing at 30% and bought up an entire apartment complex that was just opening for incoming students.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on July 29, 2020, 12:46:34 PM
Been hearing rumours that the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and other people we rely on for funding are laying people off and downsizing. Getting worried about my job now.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: fatguyranting on July 30, 2020, 04:11:21 PM
I haven't been able to access any library facilities for months, the promised 'networking with publishers and agents' also never happened on my MA, but luckily the finance team are so on point they sent a demand today for the £2 which I owe in fees.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Dex Sawash on August 14, 2020, 09:47:07 PM

UNC has 2 dormitories with covid outbreaks. Students have been back for about a week.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on August 14, 2020, 10:16:51 PM
I haven't been able to access any library facilities for months, the promised 'networking with publishers and agents' also never happened on my MA, but luckily the finance team are so on point they sent a demand today for the £2 which I owe in fees.



That's crazy! Even in my cashcow of an institution, they extended all holds until September and deferred any fines.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on August 14, 2020, 11:07:13 PM
We’re getting a three year pay freeze and a 5% pay cut for a year. For higher grades (managers and academics) it’ll be 10 or 15%. A voluntary redundancy plan is going to be put in place, but nothing else yet.

It all depends on how many students we get now. If we do badly more redundancies will follow, if we do well not all the wage freezes and cuts will go into effect.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on August 20, 2020, 10:01:59 PM
Just been informed that the managers of the huge deserted lab building I work in where I can go an entire day without bumping into another soul have decided to make face coverings mandatory. Fuck's sake.

Had a town Hall meeting the other day where most of the questions posted were asking why we have such fucking ridiculous OTT health and safety guidelines and why the health and safety staff won't back the fuck off and stop patrolling the corridors looking for excuses to give people a bollocking. It does feel like we're being punished for upsetting the health and safety gods.

Work is such a pain in the arse right now that I can barely be arsed to go into the building as it is.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: drummersaredeaf on August 20, 2020, 10:15:09 PM
Is anyone aware of institutions shitting it over recruitment?

My place - campus based - is slutting it all over the socials, seemingly desperate to get anyone through the door. Recruitment was an ongoing issue anyway, with the bulk (around 2/3 I think) done through clearing. The tariff is quite high, but come clearing they do anything they can to get near enough anyone in - and that's under normal conditions. I'm also hearing from a former colleague who is now fairly hot shot management in a Russell Group uni, that he thinks there will be a knock on effect on the 'second division' universities, who won't get the spill from the top table as they are starting to guarantee places and offer deferrals into next year. Predicted grades will presumably mean more get their first choice even if it means kicking it into 2021. This obviously damages a university that cashes in on disappointment every August.

So what's the story out and about? I'm not hearing numbers yet, but find the above scenario conceivable. Are any Russell Group over-recruiting, or will that not become feasible when considering the student:teacher ratio and league tables?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Dex Sawash on August 22, 2020, 07:13:26 PM
UNC has 2 dormitories with covid outbreaks. Students have been back for about a week.

Week and 5 outbreaks later, they've sent most all students back home and gone fully online. Other state schools doing the same. Forns and kids with hardship can stay on campus.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on August 22, 2020, 08:11:15 PM
Our university has been putting a lot of signage up about Covid making some entrances and stairs one way and the like.

Not sure how the halls are doing. We leased them out to a management company for the next century a few years back.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on August 25, 2020, 07:52:58 AM
Is anyone aware of institutions shitting it over recruitment?

My place - campus based - is slutting it all over the socials, seemingly desperate to get anyone through the door. Recruitment was an ongoing issue anyway, with the bulk (around 2/3 I think) done through clearing. The tariff is quite high, but come clearing they do anything they can to get near enough anyone in - and that's under normal conditions. I'm also hearing from a former colleague who is now fairly hot shot management in a Russell Group uni, that he thinks there will be a knock on effect on the 'second division' universities, who won't get the spill from the top table as they are starting to guarantee places and offer deferrals into next year. Predicted grades will presumably mean more get their first choice even if it means kicking it into 2021. This obviously damages a university that cashes in on disappointment every August.

So what's the story out and about? I'm not hearing numbers yet, but find the above scenario conceivable. Are any Russell Group over-recruiting, or will that not become feasible when considering the student:teacher ratio and league tables?

Not Russell group but a large Russell group very nearby.

Initial numbers were poor but we're up to our target* now after clearing. Just hope the majority actually turn up.

*we didn't beat around bush - we have labs and the safe capacity in lab became our target for the year.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on August 25, 2020, 07:54:02 AM
It's my colleagues that aren't helping now.

"We should make students sign a document to say that they won't party"
"You know we can't do that"
"But we should"

Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on August 25, 2020, 08:26:34 AM
Just been informed that the managers of the huge deserted lab building I work in where I can go an entire day without bumping into another soul have decided to make face coverings mandatory. Fuck's sake.

Had a town Hall meeting the other day where most of the questions posted were asking why we have such fucking ridiculous OTT health and safety guidelines and why the health and safety staff won't back the fuck off and stop patrolling the corridors looking for excuses to give people a bollocking. It does feel like we're being punished for upsetting the health and safety gods.

Work is such a pain in the arse right now that I can barely be arsed to go into the building as it is.

what is your objection to that? stuffiness, pain in the arse, breathing issues? I don't see the problem in the short term. Fair enough if there is only a handful of you.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on August 25, 2020, 10:07:09 AM
Sweatiness, glasses fogging up. It's just horrible having to wear a mask for hours on end.

I can understand masks being compulsory in shops but I've been told that the lab building is operating under capacity, and while we currently have a limit of 30 people in the building at any one time (ie, ten per floor), the average attendance for the entire building is eight.

I also mainly go in to use a facility no-one else uses and spend the whole day in a room on my own- and being a cell-culture facility, it's an extremely well-ventilated room where the air is constantly being filtered and sterilised!

We had a town hall meeting recently where there were a lot of complaints about our OTT health and safety rules. There have been a lot of complaints about our health and safety peeps enjoying this whole Covid malarkey a bit too much and patrolling round looking for excuses to give people a bollocking. It's made for a really unpleasant atmosphere, to the point where the PhD students have been allowed back for a few weeks now but many of them are choosing to stay away and work from home instead.

I'd happily wear a mask if I was teaching a class full of students (for example) but right now it just doesn't make sense.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Camp Tramp on August 25, 2020, 09:32:10 PM

 There have been a lot of complaints about our health and safety peeps enjoying this whole Covid malarkey a bit too much and patrolling round looking for excuses to give people a bollocking. It's made for a really unpleasant atmosphere,

This seems true of H&S people everywhere. The most irritating and argumentative employee was made the 'Covid Safety Marshal' at my work. He loves pulling people up for walking a meter up a one way travel path and just gets in the way
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on August 30, 2020, 08:57:34 AM
So the UCU is starting a push against Universities reopening and they're not alone.

Quote
The University and College Union (UCU), which represents over 120,000 academics, lecturers and university workers accused the government of “encouraging a public health crisis”, warning that British universities are just “weeks away” from “sleepwalking into a disaster”.

“A million young people are being encouraged to travel all around the UK, move into halls of residence and congregate in large numbers. This could lead to universities being the care homes of any second wave of Covid,” general secretary Jo Grady said in an interview with the Observer.

On 20 August, the Independent Sage group recommended that all university courses should be offered remotely and online, unless they involved practical training or lab work. If students and staff do have to attend campus in these restricted circumstances, the committee said they should be tested for the virus on or before arrival, and regularly afterwards.

The National Union of Students said it wanted universities to follow the Independent Sage advice and focus on delivering face-to-face teaching only for lab-based and practical courses. “The government needs to work with universities to urgently take action and ensure that measures are put in place to prioritise student and staff safety,” said Larissa Kennedy, NUS national president. “In-person teaching should only take place if it can be delivered safely for all staff and students, and social distancing guidelines and other safety measures can be maintained.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/29/uk-university-reopenings-risk-covid-public-health-crisis-teaching-union-warns.

My univeristy has plenty of signage and one way systems in place, and hand sanitisers inside the entrance of every building, but there's no PPE requirement or any testing program. There has been a spate of infections at colleges in the US, but is that simply due to the coronavirus being more out of control there?

At the moment, I'm expecting the universities to open, but with the record of last minute U-turns the government has lately I'm taking nothing for granted.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on August 30, 2020, 09:42:09 AM
I made it through the awful redundancy rounds this past summer -- the cost being that three of my colleagues didn't, so all of our workloads increased for those who are left. Just got my timetable for the autumn, and it is awful: I have to be on campus five days a week (which, in normal times, yeah, ok, sure fine). But during this particular situation? Not so fab, sadly.

Every day I have several 'in person' seminars where I have to lead discussion to a small subset of a bigger class -- to those who show up, and streaming to those who realise everything on campus is going to be streamed and recorded anyway.

Feeling extremely resentful of colleagues who have had their on campus classes packed into two if not only one day a wekk (one colleague who lives a 5 minute walk has managed to have all of her classes on the same day. I've got a faff of a railway trip to get onto campus every day for my stuff, smack in the middle of the afternoon, so most of the day will be wasted commuting).

Fave parts of my timetable: I have an online lecture to one of the big cohort groups at midday, then an on-campus seminar 15 minutes after the online lecture ends. We're not supposed to do any of the online stuff from our office. So I have to figure out how in the living fuck I'm meant to teleport to campus.

Every Monday I have a seminar on our satellite campus, which is about a 30 minute walk from the main campus. 15 minutes after that ends, I'm meant to be on the main campus giving another seminar.

I've been trying to record lectures on Teams, but since Friday, none of my recordings are saving or transfering to Stream (which they were automatically Friday morning, then everything stopped working. Hours of work wasted, as the error messages didn't come up right away. No idea what I'm doing wrong -- I've tried it on several different devices and computers now, following everything to the letter. Nope. Can't wait for this to happen in the classroom). I have to record nearly 80 lectures (in 3-4 parts), and have no idea what is going wrong. Got a vague response that 'Microsoft servers are experiencing a global glitch and my lectures will upload as soon as that is fixed.' Uh huh.

I'm supposed to go to campus this Friday for 'training' on how we're meant to stream seminars at the same time as teaching them to whoever actually shows up. Senior management tells us that this is easy -- well, yes, for them, because all they do is stand in front of a camera while minions operate it, monitor the chatroom, take care of everything else.

Initially, they told us that everyone had to come onto campus at some point before the semester started for this training, so that we don't show up on the first day of the semester clueless and wasting the students' time (!) fumbling about in the classroom. Most recently, we got a scoldly email saying word had got round that staff were planning to come onto campus to train for using Stream in the classroom, and this was not a good idea because of saftey concerns. It's like Catch-22 come to life.

They tell us to walk or cycle to campus -- maybe drive if we absolutely have to (because there simply isn't enough parking). Anyone taking the trains will pretty much be regarded as pariahs. Fuck knows then how I'm meant to get to campus.

There is no way short of an actual asteroid strike that we will be allowed to go completely online, because the uni  charges the depts for the use of classrooms plus of course they are depending on students for housing fees (as well as tuition). We're already being threatened with a fresh round of autumn redundancies if they students don't come back, and we are being monitored for how well we do the online/hybrid teaching as part of the criteria whether we're made redundant at the end of the academic year.

Really dreading it, and the attendant stress and anxiety it's already bringing. I think I'd be a lot better if we were 100% online -- I've made a wager that we'll probably go online completely by week 2 or 3 due to a covid breakout, but my university delayed sending us all online in the spring til the last possible minute (although senior management disappeared the minute there was even a whiff that someone had tested positive -- we carried on for another two weeks). So I can see them attempting to soldier on in-person as much as they can get away with.

Apologies for the whingeing -- but it's an absolute clusterfuck for me. :(
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on August 30, 2020, 10:02:11 AM
So the UCU is starting a push against Universities reopening and they're not alone.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/29/uk-university-reopenings-risk-covid-public-health-crisis-teaching-union-warns.

My univeristy has plenty of signage and one way systems in place, and hand sanitisers inside the entrance of every building, but there's no PPE requirement or any testing program. There has been a spate of infections at colleges in the US, but is that simply due to the coronavirus being more out of control there?

At the moment, I'm expecting the universities to open, but with the record of last minute U-turns the government has lately I'm taking nothing for granted.

I saw the head of UCU on BBC this morning (forgive me, I've just emerged from 4 bed ridden days of food poisoning). The cunt BBC anchor was so antagonistic and missing the point "surely the University's have had enough time!!! Those kids will be part of the lost generation (a. they are adults, b. why has The BBC always highlighted remote learning on their tech shows-the future you cunts).)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on August 30, 2020, 10:06:15 AM
So the UCU is starting a push against Universities reopening and they're not alone.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/29/uk-university-reopenings-risk-covid-public-health-crisis-teaching-union-warns.

My univeristy has plenty of signage and one way systems in place, and hand sanitisers inside the entrance of every building, but there's no PPE requirement or any testing program. There has been a spate of infections at colleges in the US, but is that simply due to the coronavirus being more out of control there?

At the moment, I'm expecting the universities to open, but with the record of last minute U-turns the government has lately I'm taking nothing for granted.

Although forbidden to say much, there will be some innovative measures coming in place to identify solutions for isolating cases even down to the building/dorm level. They have done this in Illinois (ND Uni) where a silent outbreak was detected early and those affected quarantined without further spread. I have to be careful to say anything really, but I have some confidence now that I'm on the outer edge of the inner circle. [p.s. not trying to appear cryptic or neckbeard egotistical)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on August 30, 2020, 10:10:21 AM
I made it through the awful redundancy rounds this past summer -- the cost being that three of my colleagues didn't, so all of our workloads increased for those who are left. Just got my timetable for the autumn, and it is awful: I have to be on campus five days a week (which, in normal times, yeah, ok, sure fine). But during this particular situation? Not so fab, sadly.

Every day I have several 'in person' seminars where I have to lead discussion to a small subset of a bigger class -- to those who show up, and streaming to those who realise everything on campus is going to be streamed and recorded anyway.

Feeling extremely resentful of colleagues who have had their on campus classes packed into two if not only one day a wekk (one colleague who lives a 5 minute walk has managed to have all of her classes on the same day. I've got a faff of a railway trip to get onto campus every day for my stuff, smack in the middle of the afternoon, so most of the day will be wasted commuting).

Fave parts of my timetable: I have an online lecture to one of the big cohort groups at midday, then an on-campus seminar 15 minutes after the online lecture ends. We're not supposed to do any of the online stuff from our office. So I have to figure out how in the living fuck I'm meant to teleport to campus.

Every Monday I have a seminar on our satellite campus, which is about a 30 minute walk from the main campus. 15 minutes after that ends, I'm meant to be on the main campus giving another seminar.

I've been trying to record lectures on Teams, but since Friday, none of my recordings are saving or transfering to Stream (which they were automatically Friday morning, then everything stopped working. Hours of work wasted, as the error messages didn't come up right away. No idea what I'm doing wrong -- I've tried it on several different devices and computers now, following everything to the letter. Nope. Can't wait for this to happen in the classroom). I have to record nearly 80 lectures (in 3-4 parts), and have no idea what is going wrong. Got a vague response that 'Microsoft servers are experiencing a global glitch and my lectures will upload as soon as that is fixed.' Uh huh.

I'm supposed to go to campus this Friday for 'training' on how we're meant to stream seminars at the same time as teaching them to whoever actually shows up. Senior management tells us that this is easy -- well, yes, for them, because all they do is stand in front of a camera while minions operate it, monitor the chatroom, take care of everything else.

Initially, they told us that everyone had to come onto campus at some point before the semester started for this training, so that we don't show up on the first day of the semester clueless and wasting the students' time (!) fumbling about in the classroom. Most recently, we got a scoldly email saying word had got round that staff were planning to come onto campus to train for using Stream in the classroom, and this was not a good idea because of saftey concerns. It's like Catch-22 come to life.

They tell us to walk or cycle to campus -- maybe drive if we absolutely have to (because there simply isn't enough parking). Anyone taking the trains will pretty much be regarded as pariahs. Fuck knows then how I'm meant to get to campus.

There is no way short of an actual asteroid strike that we will be allowed to go completely online, because the uni  charges the depts for the use of classrooms plus of course they are depending on students for housing fees (as well as tuition). We're already being threatened with a fresh round of autumn redundancies if they students don't come back, and we are being monitored for how well we do the online/hybrid teaching as part of the criteria whether we're made redundant at the end of the academic year.

Really dreading it, and the attendant stress and anxiety it's already bringing. I think I'd be a lot better if we were 100% online -- I've made a wager that we'll probably go online completely by week 2 or 3 due to a covid breakout, but my university delayed sending us all online in the spring til the last possible minute (although senior management disappeared the minute there was even a whiff that someone had tested positive -- we carried on for another two weeks). So I can see them attempting to soldier on in-person as much as they can get away with.

Apologies for the whingeing -- but it's an absolute clusterfuck for me. :(

fuck that. unionise.

I think Newcastle have now reserved a number of lecture rooms so that staff can do all this stuff on site safely and efficiently.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on August 30, 2020, 10:45:51 AM
We don't even have timetables yet, but it seems the college is pushing for more face to face teaching than we expected despite the obvious pitfalls; there's no way we're getting through the term without shutting down and moving online at this rate.

There's absolutely no clarity about where this leaves casual staff like myself and as we don't even have contracts, they're probably going to cut a lot if not all of us loose if they're struggling financially. I got in touch with our main point of contact in the department about this (I'm one of the reps) and got an extremely rude and touchy reply - the sense of contempt was palpable. The whole thing is a disaster waiting to happen.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on August 30, 2020, 11:34:48 AM
fuck that. unionise.

I think Newcastle have now reserved a number of lecture rooms so that staff can do all this stuff on site safely and efficiently.

We do have a union. They've been quiet about this so far.

We don't even have timetables yet, but it seems the college is pushing for more face to face teaching than we expected despite the obvious pitfalls; there's no way we're getting through the term without shutting down and moving online at this rate.

There's absolutely no clarity about where this leaves casual staff like myself and as we don't even have contracts, they're probably going to cut a lot if not all of us loose if they're struggling financially. I got in touch with our main point of contact in the department about this (I'm one of the reps) and got an extremely rude and touchy reply - the sense of contempt was palpable. The whole thing is a disaster waiting to happen.

We have to sign up for individual hours at a time that we can use our offices, to keep the number of people in the building down. In normal times, I'd get to campus around 730 and stay all day (makes it easier to get the train, means I can be more efficient with getting everything else done during the day). Instead, we're told there will be hot desks we can use as 'safe spots' if we need more time to work on campus.

Ummm...holing up in my own office with my books, papers, resources, &c, would be way more efficient than dragging everything to thes 'safe spaces' throughout the day.

In response to me practically begging to be allowed onto campus early (I have 9am teaching two days, but the rest all start at 11, 12pm, and 1pm) to work in and record/stream out of my office) due to my commuting issues has been met with 'Where you choose to live isn't our problem.'

Like you buttgammon, we were told that while we would have face-to-face teaching, it would be as efficient and maximised as possible to keep contact safe; my timetable tells a whole different story. Because they're insisting on face to face seminars, each one of m y modules is now split into several smaller groups, so I'm repeating stuff hour-to-hour as students shuffle in and out of the classrooms.

I can't even keep track of the pages and pages of rules and requirements that we all have to keep to for teaching, when we can be on campus, how the online stuff is meant to work, how we're responsible for sanitising the classrooms before and after each lesson, &c.

If I had somewhere else to go and even a modicum of financial security, I'd be out like a shot -- which depresses me, as teaching and history and all that has been my interest and focus since I was a kid. If I lose this job I'm royally fucked, but keeping it is a right misery. Yay!

I've got some colleagues back home in the States who are shocked that we're not going online, but others who say their universities are doggedly persisting in on-campus teaching as well.

Online teaching has its perils, of course -- I like to read a teachers/lecturers chatroom, and some of the stories about student antics on-camera have been...interesting.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on August 30, 2020, 11:54:55 AM
happy to take some of your lectures to help out. I've read up on my Cartledge, Graves and B. Johnson
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on August 30, 2020, 01:07:37 PM
happy to take some of your lectures to help out. I've read up on my Cartledge, Graves and B. Johnson

I don't mind teaching lectures, it's just arrgghhh why is nothing I try to record on Teams actually recording? I'm following everything to the letter, and I had no problems recording/transferring to Streams up to Friday afternoon.

(I've even gone round the houses by downloading what I've recorded and manually uploading to Streams, but you don't get the auto close-captioning that way -- we're required to have close captioning, otherwise I'd just slap everything up on my YouTube account.)

Apologies for all of the random screaming and ranting -- I try not to talk about any of this stuff at home.

My uni is bending over backwards to take precautions for the students (fair enough), but zero for the staff's well-being and workload.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 01, 2020, 06:42:34 PM
An email came round about our voluntary severance package halfway through an excruciating board of examiners meeting today. I was tempted. But alas they’d have to offer about 20x as much to buy me off.

Can’t advise on lecture prerecording cos I took the easy way out by going into my usual theatre and activating the capture equipment. No new skills to learn. Did the whole lot in two long takes, bit like recording a game show.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 01, 2020, 11:11:26 PM
Ii've got no probs doing the recording (I used to do a lot of multi media for my music classes). It's that the damned Teams/Streams hookup isn't working, and no one seems to know what the problem is or how to fix it. I've been through all of our IT guys, and their universal response is, 'huh.' It's not that I don't know how to use the programmes/equipement -- it's that they don't bloody work (I'm cross with them, not you guys).

Can't access any classrooms at the moment; in order actually to get into my office on Friday this week (I need to collect books), I had to fill out a three page 'service request' filled with health questions and writing long explanations why I have to access my office, andisn't it stuff I can do from home. I'm allowed only 30 minutes -- so much for all of the scanning and printing I need to do.

Absolute clusterfuck.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 02, 2020, 07:58:12 AM
Ah right yes software fails. I thought it was a basic premise of HE IT that it mostly gets in the way of doing your job. Spent most of yesterday tediously setting up release schedules for dozens of individual course items because theres no way to automate that process. And if timetabling moves my classes (again) I’ll have to go and edit the whole lot. Automation, we’ve heard of it.

A major factor in my decision to use the rough and ready LT recording setup, rather than attempt something more professional / appealing to view remotely, was that it was already hooked into the delivery system and I wouldn’t have to worry about that. There’s plenty enough other things to worry about as it is.

Luckily my building reopened fairly early and so we can pretty much come and go as we please, with the expectation that we do so only if it’s essential. Preparing for teaching is deemed essential, which is helpful. That said, I’m not sure the building my tutorials are in is open and I do need to have a look to see how social distancing will translate to the room layout, which in turn will affect how the tutorials are run. We already appreciate that it will be teaching from the front, 1950s style. An issue is that the room I’m in might not have a “front” as such...
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 02, 2020, 08:06:10 AM
We had a massive cyber breach at the weekend and police are investigating so most services are shut down. They have kept the teaching bit up though.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 02, 2020, 03:47:31 PM
My uni is bending over backwards to take precautions for the students (fair enough), but zero for the staff's well-being and workload.

Attila, reading your posts is making me feel bad for whining about my uni taking too many precautions. Stay safe.

Getting lots of work done here despite the best efforts of our 'elf and safety peeps. Been informed that I have clocked up more hours than anyone else in the building. Will that be appreciated? Will it fuck.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on September 02, 2020, 03:57:43 PM
We had a really grim meeting, which made it abundantly clear nothing has been resolved. I've pissed off people in the department by asking questions they couldn't answer, and we still have no answers. We now have a policy (which is not necessarily agreed by the College yet but which my department intends to enforce) that every student must wear a mask; this is welcome, but they've managed to gradually whittle down social distancing requirements from 2m to 1m. In lieu of the college actually hiring cleaners to do a good, professional job, we've been told we will have to clean classrooms after using them. We still don't have timetables and our hours are not confirmed; we've been told all teaching will be done in-person when possible with online streams for students who can't attend, but we don't know what will happen to casual staff who can't or won't teach on site, and they may well find themselves cut loose. The timetables will be released in a few weeks and even then, that's only going to be because the government have put pressure on the university to have things in order by the middle of the month.

Casual staff like me have been pushing for clarity all summer, but nobody has been willing to take us seriously. It seems there's now some disquiet among the permanent staff, but they're hamstrung too. It's a complete mess.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 02, 2020, 06:06:35 PM
Today I noticed someone at work has been putting googly eyes on things. Evidently people are getting a bit fed up here.

Might go out and buy a packet myself.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on September 02, 2020, 07:08:37 PM
Would love to post the photo, but someone in the signage department while putting up signs for the new one way systems in some buildings has gone a bit mental and slapped a ‘no entry’ underneath an ‘exit’ one on the same door.

Not that any staff or student will pay attention to them.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 02, 2020, 10:58:26 PM
I have to go onto campus Friday for a two hour training session on how the in-class seminars are going to work, where we have to teach the ones who show up, but stream the session to the ones at home, as well as record, upload, and close-caption the session. All session chats have to be monitored, so I'm meant to be getting the students present to talk, as well as getting the students who've dialled in to talk and engage with the class, as well as me answering chat questions and comments. It's mental.

The training is happening in a brand new, state of the art building on our smaller, secondary campus. So we're being trained in a classroom we will never use, with decent equipment that we will not have access to.

I've also had to fill in a three page request to be able to access my office, as I need to take stuff in and collect as few things. I am told I have 30 minutes only, and will be escorted/chaperoned by a security guard the entire time. This is, I kid you not, to prevent me from going to the toilet.

(No idea if we're allowed to use the toilet at any time during the training.)

Officially, we can't access our offices until the first day of classes -- and even then, we have to sign up on some sort of rota system to make sure there are never more than 5 people in the building at a time. I really really need to be able to get to my office computer (to download the 38,000 updates from this year, but also I need to do printing and scanning), but that's not considered essential.

I've already worked out that I will be losing about four hours a day commuting to teach for about an hour, 90 mins tops, every day, in the middle of the day, so it's not as if it's just the morning lost.

IT have said the Microsoft issue is a global problem with their servers, and may be fixed 'by next week.' The good news is, I've found a (slow but useable) workaround, and thank the dark lord fuck, was able to recover the hours of recordings I've already made.

IT sent around an email yesterday stating they will not tolerate either written or verbal abuse from staff, and word on the street is that staff are having fairly awful meltdowns at an over-stretched and beleaguered IT dept (they've been reduced by almost 2/3s in the most recent redundancy scheme).

Good fucking times.

I keep telling Mr Attila we should just move to Scotland so I can open a little shop and have some sheep. I'm really not joking around at this point. History and teaching have been my whole life, and this is pushings me well over the edge in terms of stress and anxiety. With my schedule and everything we're expected to do this semester, I'm going to be working evenings and weekends just to keep up -- that commute is going to eat up what would otherwise be work/downtime.

Bleah.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 02, 2020, 11:31:02 PM
We have to put in a request if we want to collect things from our offices, but people realised the offices weren't actually locked and started going in to get things without making requests, so now they've all been locked. I was reassured that my cactus (which I definitely didn't pick out because it was the most phallic one, honest) is still alive because our nice thoughtful cleaners had been watering all the plants. Not anymore. DEAD SOON. And we've also been told that office-based staff won't be back until January at the earliest...

I keep telling Mr Attila we should just move to Scotland so I can open a little shop and have some sheep. I'm really not joking around at this point.

Mr Jam and I are having the "let's move to a little sheep farm in the Outer Hebrides" conversation more and more often. Along with the one about me sacking off biomedical science and retraining as a dog groomer.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on September 03, 2020, 12:00:17 AM
Thank god I didn't follow my childhood dream (I know, I know) of being a historian/history professor.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 03, 2020, 07:16:52 AM
Thank god I didn't follow my childhood dream (I know, I know) of being a historian/history professor.

It's not silly -- it was my childhood dream, as well. When things have gone all right, it's been a good gig. However, yeah...It took me til age 45 to finally land a proper full time university job, and over the past decade, the workload has increased in terms of admin and bullshit, and less and less time actually to teach and write. The past few years (endless bullying and abuse from a crazy parent that made my life holy hell, and my head of dept  did nothing, & senior management sided with the parent, and especially now with covid...) have had a fairly detrimental effect on my mental well-being, sadly. The stress and anxiety are like a living, physical entity, and it's getting more and more difficult to live like this.

Good times.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 03, 2020, 07:21:39 AM

Mr Jam and I are having the "let's move to a little sheep farm in the Outer Hebrides" conversation more and more often. Along with the one about me sacking off biomedical science and retraining as a dog groomer.

Mr Attila thinks I'm joking when I tell him I'd like to up sticks and start over somewhere else with a little sheep farm (I used to have one, so I know what's involved) and run a little crafty-type shop (experience there, as well).

I try not to talk much with him about how stressed out I am, because I don't want to lay it all on him, you know?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on September 03, 2020, 07:25:38 AM
Would love to post the photo, but someone in the signage department while putting up signs for the new one way systems in some buildings has gone a bit mental and slapped a ‘no entry’ underneath an ‘exit’ one on the same door.

Not that any staff or student will pay attention to them.

did the signage on my lab yesterday

"a door can't be both an entrance and an exit"
"it connects the two labs?"

Goggly eyes please.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 03, 2020, 07:33:08 AM
I have to go onto campus Friday for a two hour training session on how the in-class seminars are going to work, where we have to teach the ones who show up, but stream the session to the ones at home, as well as record, upload, and close-caption the session. All session chats have to be monitored, so I'm meant to be getting the students present to talk, as well as getting the students who've dialled in to talk and engage with the class, as well as me answering chat questions and comments. It's mental.

The training is happening in a brand new, state of the art building on our smaller, secondary campus. So we're being trained in a classroom we will never use, with decent equipment that we will not have access to.

I've also had to fill in a three page request to be able to access my office, as I need to take stuff in and collect as few things. I am told I have 30 minutes only, and will be escorted/chaperoned by a security guard the entire time. This is, I kid you not, to prevent me from going to the toilet.

(No idea if we're allowed to use the toilet at any time during the training.)

Officially, we can't access our offices until the first day of classes -- and even then, we have to sign up on some sort of rota system to make sure there are never more than 5 people in the building at a time. I really really need to be able to get to my office computer (to download the 38,000 updates from this year, but also I need to do printing and scanning), but that's not considered essential.

I've already worked out that I will be losing about four hours a day commuting to teach for about an hour, 90 mins tops, every day, in the middle of the day, so it's not as if it's just the morning lost.

IT have said the Microsoft issue is a global problem with their servers, and may be fixed 'by next week.' The good news is, I've found a (slow but useable) workaround, and thank the dark lord fuck, was able to recover the hours of recordings I've already made.

IT sent around an email yesterday stating they will not tolerate either written or verbal abuse from staff, and word on the street is that staff are having fairly awful meltdowns at an over-stretched and beleaguered IT dept (they've been reduced by almost 2/3s in the most recent redundancy scheme).

Good fucking times.

I keep telling Mr Attila we should just move to Scotland so I can open a little shop and have some sheep. I'm really not joking around at this point. History and teaching have been my whole life, and this is pushings me well over the edge in terms of stress and anxiety. With my schedule and everything we're expected to do this semester, I'm going to be working evenings and weekends just to keep up -- that commute is going to eat up what would otherwise be work/downtime.

Bleah.

Here's an opportunity for revolution!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 03, 2020, 07:34:57 AM
It's not silly -- it was my childhood dream, as well. When things have gone all right, it's been a good gig. However, yeah...It took me til age 45 to finally land a proper full time university job, and over the past decade, the workload has increased in terms of admin and bullshit, and less and less time actually to teach and write. The past few years (endless bullying and abuse from a crazy parent that made my life holy hell, and my head of dept  did nothing, & senior management sided with the parent, and especially now with covid...) have had a fairly detrimental effect on my mental well-being, sadly. The stress and anxiety are like a living, physical entity, and it's getting more and more difficult to live like this.

Good times.

So I should go for the Government lackey position you reckon? ;)

I don't feel right in this world anymore.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 03, 2020, 07:48:32 AM
So I should go for the Government lackey position you reckon? ;)

I don't feel right in this world anymore.

The situation at work is why I try to stay in the Wildlife and the cats threads :)  Otherwise, talking/thinking about this stuff, I'll just crack up completely, I think.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Cursus on September 03, 2020, 09:18:32 AM
Solidarity with everyone who is having a tough time of it at the moment.

The prospect of this coming year being a complete and utter shitshow is discouraging me from applying for a temporary teaching post which I would otherwise have jumped at with something approaching enthusiasm.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 03, 2020, 10:56:15 AM
over the past decade, the workload has increased in terms of admin and bullshit, and less and less time actually to teach and write.

This particular issue seems a lot worse in the humanities than the sciences. Mr Jam is in the humanities and his Zoom meetings seem to take about ten times as long as my Zoom meetings. Mine get straight to the point and leave me with a nice To Do list and a proper plan for the week, I think he gets more departmental waffling. Yes, we have 'elf and safety stuff and I have a colleague who seems to spend all day writing risk assessments, but that stuff is unavoidable.

It could be a thing that varies between institutions though. When I was at KCL I know my boss there had to deal with a load of college politics. At Edinburgh it doesn't seem quite so bad.

I'm kind of glad I don't teach anymore. I used to really enjoy it but it sounds like it's going to be a nightmare until Covid fucks off. The closest I get is supervising students and I'm lucky our crap lazy one has left and we've only had bright and capable ones since.

Big hugs to you Attila.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 03, 2020, 12:59:45 PM
This particular issue seems a lot worse in the humanities than the sciences. Mr Jam is in the humanities and his Zoom meetings seem to take about ten times as long as my Zoom meetings. Mine get straight to the point and leave me with a nice To Do list and a proper plan for the week, I think he gets more departmental waffling. Yes, we have 'elf and safety stuff and I have a colleague who seems to spend all day writing risk assessments, but that stuff is unavoidable.

It could be a thing that varies between institutions though. When I was at KCL I know my boss there had to deal with a load of college politics. At Edinburgh it doesn't seem quite so bad.

I'm kind of glad I don't teach anymore. I used to really enjoy it but it sounds like it's going to be a nightmare until Covid fucks off. The closest I get is supervising students and I'm lucky our crap lazy one has left and we've only had bright and capable ones since.

Big hugs to you Attila.

cheers <3

I've b een in a history meeting for the past 3 hours, and it's all just been literal tears and people super upset.

We've literally had, during the meeting, a complete new directive in how we're meant to teach online this semester. It's an absolute shambles.
 
Hybrid learning is just not going to work. Fuckton of plans and intiatives, no clear direction for how any of this is meant to work. Timetabling is awful.

My head of dept has even said, once the students realise everything is going to be streamed, they will stop actually attending in person --so I'll be making 2 hour commutes for 45 minutes (the total time allowed for the sessions) to empty classrooms. All seminar stuff is what's being emphasised -- but the students never participate or do the reading -- and we're not allowed to provide them with handouts.

Everything I do with organising the students into little groups, having them work on documents -- we're not allowed to do any of that.

Right now, I wish I could just disappear.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 03, 2020, 01:09:59 PM
And on top of everything else, each lecturer is now responsible for student engagement -- and will be penalised if students are not engaging in online learning. So we have to check all the infographics on our module pages to make sure the students are engaging with all of the materials we upload.

If they are missing at least 80% of attendance, then we have to have 1-2-1 meetings with them (five all told), going through practice in good engagement and proactivity in their studies.

And we're also expected now to respond to student emails within 24 hours of receipt (it's been 72 hours, work days only).

It's mental.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 03, 2020, 02:52:05 PM
Annnnd just finished a meeting with a very patient, very weary IT person about how to use the cool new software w'ell have in hand...maybe...unless they decide to go with something else...next week...or maybe just before the first day of class...who knows.

IT has been gutted by redundancies, so they are down to two full time and 3 pt people handling issues of thousands of people...this woman is an sbsolute saint, but so weary. Her dead-eyed stare when a colleague asked how come it takes an hour to record an hour lecture. Isn't there as way to record it at 4x, 8x, or even 16x speed -- wouldn't that be more efficient?

I'm stressed and anxious, and I have a half-arsed idea how to do this stuff, and how to cobble something workable together in the next two 1/2 weeks, but I cannot imagine how the completely technophobe and techno-ignorant of my colleagues are managing. :(
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on September 03, 2020, 03:57:31 PM
Attila, every post you make in this thread puts the problems at my institution into perspective - it really sounds like they treat you like shit there (including IT evidently).

I'm feeling relatively lucky at the moment. I'm in a stable enough financial position because I have a second job and funding that has no teaching stipulation, so I've turned round and said I will not teach in-person classes under the current circumstances but am available to teach online (we were asked to state a preference back when the college was aiming for a mixed model and were sent an email giving us one chance to change our minds). A lot of colleagues are inevitably going to do the same. Unfortunately, this means permanent staff will be massively overworked taking over our tutorials and some unlucky TAs who desperately need the money and can't say no will have to work in awful conditions for low pay without even having a contract.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 03, 2020, 06:44:01 PM
I thought I had everything under control. And today I seem to have lost control again. I think the icing on the cake was being asked to fill out a spreadsheet with every single hand-in deadline for the course because extension requests are now going to be handled centrally rather than by the course organiser as used to be the case. Not a difficult job, you would think, but made more so by the fact that I don't have a timetable yet...
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 04, 2020, 06:59:55 AM
If I had an alternative, I'd grab at it -- but there isn't much out there for a mid-50s woman to start over again with any financial security.

I'm pretty much stuck with this, as there is no escape or alternatives as far as I can see except somewhat drastic ones. Ah well.

I hope everyone else at a university is all right,  x.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 04, 2020, 08:40:04 AM
Not really, I think we are all fucked. US-style Corporate Academia is here to stay. Land grab in cities, diminishment of freedoms etc.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 04, 2020, 01:28:12 PM
Just applied for a job for which I am massively overqualified. It is a research job though, and it would beat working in a call centre again. I guess I should just be glad my institution isn't having a recruitment freeze *sigh*
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 04, 2020, 01:38:16 PM
...and yes, someone has already suggested to me that I get myself an RV and start cooking crystal meth, and while they were joking it did make me want to cry a little bit.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: chveik on September 04, 2020, 01:44:01 PM
it all sounds awful. I was close to follow a career in academia at some point but I had a nervous breakdown. looks like it was for the best!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 04, 2020, 01:53:34 PM
I've just come back from campus, and the health & safety measures are simply stickers and signs everywhere telling people to wash their hands, observe social distancing, and wear a mask indoors (cafes and shops only).

A friend of mine is a librarian on my former home campus, and it's like night and day, the differences in how the two universities are reacting -- their library is open, but most of their teaching is online. They have seriously vigorous distancing and cleaning procedures in place -- and they have had, since 31 August, 30+ cases of students testing positive for covid, and over a dozen instructors. That's with almost a Howard Hughes level of cleaniless.

It's going to be carnage at my university.

I was in today as they're requiring all of us to do practice runs of hybrid learning; we all had a lot of laughs, but also agreed, it's going to be a fucking shambles.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 04, 2020, 02:21:53 PM
it all sounds awful. I was close to follow a career in academia at some point but I had a nervous breakdown. looks like it was for the best!

Basically I'm at the top of pay grade 6 (Research Assistant/Technician level) when I should be in the middle of grade 7 (Postdoc level) by now. I'd be there if I hadn't sacked off the grade 7 job I had a few years ago but as I detailed in another thread I ended up being signed off work with anxiety thanks to horrible colleagues and an ineffectual boss and after a year I was thankfully poached by another lab group leader and was all too happy to take a small pay cut.

I think another year in that job really would have induced a nervous breakdown though.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on September 04, 2020, 08:13:58 PM
From the Torygraph

Quote
A new document released by Sage today has said that significant Covid-19 outbreaks linked to universities are "highly likely" and could risk accentuating the spread of the virus nationwide.

The document suggests the wearing of face coverings in campus buildings and reducing in-person interactions as means of reducing the spread of the virus.

Quote
The newest Sage paper adds:

    Students who are residents in university accommodation should be segmented as far as possible to co-locate courses or year groups, to minimise networks between different parts of an institution.

    There is a significant risk that HE (Higher Education) could amplify local and national transmission, and this requires national oversight.

Segmented, eh?

I hate students as much as the next sane person, but chopping them into pieces is going a bit too far.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 04, 2020, 08:15:31 PM
For your note, if the gov take on board "our" recommendations, this could be nipped in the bud...being done in the US at the moment.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 04, 2020, 11:34:16 PM
The idea of keeping cohorts in classrooms that are clustered and close by is laughable -- maybe they're doing it with the year cohorts and courses on my campus, but I'm all over the fucking shop when it comes to constantly having to change classrooms, with my classes not only meeting in many different buildings, but on the satellite campus as well as the main campus.

The training session we did today is in a posh new building because the classrooms are bigger (so with distancing, we could fit 15 people into it). The classrooms on the main campus are pokey little things, often with poor ventilation.

My Fave is how the lecturer has to stand inside a box on the floor that's marked with tape. Cos germs and stuff will stop at the tape barrier.

I'm actually in decent health, and am pretty fit after a year or so of getting my diet sorted out and getting into a good exercise regime. I am not looking forward to being felled by covid and having the attendant health issues. There's so no way it's not going to spread like wildfire through the student housing and into the classrooms :(
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on September 04, 2020, 11:37:26 PM
What's the policy on hazmat suits??
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on September 04, 2020, 11:41:50 PM
Like most places, we’ve got classrooms dotted around everywhere. Students end up going to many different buildings for the same class.

We have two buildings which are just about all centrally bootable classrooms. On an average day hundreds of students troop into and out of each one of them. Even if that’s cut to a quarter I can’t see how it can work safely.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 05, 2020, 09:57:29 AM
What's the policy on hazmat suits??

One of my colleagues showed up yesterday wearing a fleecey top with the sleeves pinned tightly at the wrists, and high boots; plastic gloves rubber-banded at the wrist, and a heavy mask with a filter on it.

Like most places, we’ve got classrooms dotted around everywhere. Students end up going to many different buildings for the same class.

We have two buildings which are just about all centrally bootable classrooms. On an average day hundreds of students troop into and out of each one of them. Even if that’s cut to a quarter I can’t see how it can work safely.

Every classroom has a bottle of sanitising wipes in it, and they are randomly placed throughout the building -- bearing in mind this is a posh reception building, and not an average classroom. Nor how grubby everything will invariably get once the students are back, the weather turns more and more wet and muddy, &c. No idea how they're going to keep the toilet blocks clean -- they're usually pretty gross once the students -- and certain members of staff -- return, as well.

Yep -- because of distancing, we now have students moving all over campus for different parts of the same class: no one is allowed to be together in a room for more than an hour, so whereas before we had classes in 1, 2, and 3 hour blocks, they're all broken up into one hour segments. So you can have a student in what had been a 3 hour class now having to move to three different sites (maybe the same day, maybe scattered across the timetable).

There's no guarantee that student housing is going to be as organised as all of this -- they're making attempts for the university housing to be 'safe', but 2/3 of our students rent house shares and other grotty properties around the city. We get horror stories about the filth levels in those properties at the best of  times -- two years back we had a clutch of students hospitalised for CO2 poisoning in one such property, and many of them get ill from black mold on others.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 05, 2020, 09:59:38 AM
Living the dream
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on September 08, 2020, 10:28:41 AM
Things have taken a really depressing turn here, as the president of the Students' Union has started going around saying he's going to do everything he can to make sure the university is teaching as much f2f as possible. It's clearly not safe, almost all staff disagree and he would be putting his own members at risk. What a stupid cunt.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 08, 2020, 11:17:14 AM
Tell him to take a hike...to the boglands.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on September 08, 2020, 01:32:56 PM
Tell him to take a hike...to the boglands.

I'm sending the little toryboy an email which basically suggests this.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: pancreas on September 08, 2020, 10:41:38 PM
Things have taken a really depressing turn here, as the president of the Students' Union has started going around saying he's going to do everything he can to make sure the university is teaching as much f2f as possible. It's clearly not safe, almost all staff disagree and he would be putting his own members at risk. What a stupid cunt.

Those cunts are usually horrid little tory boys, jostling for position to be in first class on the politics gravy train.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on September 08, 2020, 11:54:14 PM
Those cunts are usually horrid little tory boys, jostling for position to be in first class on the politics gravy train.

That's exactly what this lad is, just desperately hanging off the coattails of the people who run the place.

The same goes for the (thankfully gone) head of the union that represents postgrads. Obviously, many members of the union are teaching assistants and the like, and during a very tense meeting when we were on the brink of calling for a strike action, we got her to admit she didn't know how much we were paid. She's going to turn up in the Senate or a similarly cushy political job in a few years, guaranteed.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: drummersaredeaf on September 09, 2020, 01:36:32 AM
I can tell you an awful tale of how one of these cunts has gotten away with it in my university. This is a guy who started his PhD last September having come off the back of a year as a sab in the SU - education officer, I think it was. As he began to share our office, weird things started to come out - he was funded through an external body with some sort of internal funding too - though not the traditional stipend and GTA affair with a load of the marking and teaching that the full academics don't fancy. He's got funding with no teaching or any other conditions attached as far as we can tell.

But this lad hasn't done a masters. I understand that's common in physical sciences, but this is a social science. He openly told us when he was interviewed they offered him a place on condition of doing an MRes first - but he turned around and quite literally said 'I don't want to waste a year on an MRes', and so he went straight onto a PhD.  On top of that, he's changed subject. While he got a first at UG, I ended up working with a retired lecturer who was on his exam board at the end, and the lad didn't beat the algorithm so they had to argue him over the line. He had obviously taught him and described him as a precocious knob head who is getting where he is through his contacts and not deserving of what he's doing now. Now we're in a position where his supervisor (head of school!) has left to become dean elsewhere and he's got the phone numbers of various top brass to get whatever he wants put on a plate for him. He's currently talking about getting it awarded by both institutions so he has two PhDs, which I see no real benefit in.

He's getting everything he wants. A ban on sessional work for PGRs but the HOS finds work somewhere at £300/day. Starts his ethics form two months in, and gets it approved in his first year despite not having passed his progression panel (as the rest of us had to). Gets fellowship with the HEA given to him with no 12 month course and no portfolio because the VC and HoS write a letter saying he's got the prerequisite experience! He's about 22, and his experience is the year as Eduction Officer! Absolutely infuriating, and the cunt has the front to be posting on twitter how proud he is be awarded it. This one rankles the most as someone who dropped out of the course because it was too much arse ache with everything else going on, and knowing the people teaching it were actively hostile to GTAs taking the higher level course.

His work is dreadful too, and he would not have excelled on an MA/Res. We were chatting and I mentioned some of the criteria he needs to think about and some practicalities, being quite a bit further along myself. I mentioned how he needs to think about his methods, and that there needs to be a coherence to what underpins it. Some others pitch in talking epistemology and ontology (I'm following well trodden steps in my field so only really need to mimic what has gone before). Someone tells him about Saunders' onion, he gets a fairly basic methods book from the library, and within days he's telling me he's written his 'philosophical standpoint section' despite going from interpretativist to pragmatist to realist to whatever and back again and having lifted a load of references from the first few pages of research for dummies. At this point he's 3 months into a PhD.

He's put a survey out, and it is utter shit. So bad I suspect it really needs to be scrapped and to start again. I have no idea what he's trying to do, and to be honest I don't know how he can be going from UG to a big piece of PGR research so quickly, but then you see the people he rubs shoulders with. I discovered by myself that PhDs are a racket and it can come down to a supervisor ghost writing large chunks and calling favours with externals. When I see just how bent the entire thing is, it's incredibly infuriating especially when I look at the shit I've had to put up with, mostly because his best pal HoS chased all the people in my field out of the bastard university.

I can sit and piss and moan, but it achieves fuck all really, doesn't it. I am a bit of a professional working class hero and have had to slog to get to this position where the rug has been pulled from under my feet. Meanwhile this precocious shithouse comes skipping along boasting about becoming a magistrate, being Johnny Two Doctorates, overselling other achievements, and being able to do so because he has people in high places that took a shine to him when he sucked up to them in meetings.

My apologies to those who managed to suffer through that, but I feel the need to vent as this really boils my piss. It really is a nice neat shattering of the illusion of meritocracy, as if anyone would be daft enough to believe it in the first place.




Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 09, 2020, 07:53:58 AM
readers...his name is Jeffrey Epstein
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 09, 2020, 07:59:46 AM
There's a similiar very young person who is our senior management team as an 'advisor': this wunderkind is responsible for some of the horrendous initiatives we're been tasked with over the past couple of years. He's got a u/g degree, and nothing further, but in the past two or three years, his uninformed. hare-brained schemes have become university policy because he's a prodigy and knows so much about what the u/gs want (most of his changes -- especially the many, many schemes about attendance -- have been protested up one side and down the other by the actual student body, including the Student Union.)

Most of his suggestions are never tested; they're implemented usually with very little lead time and even less information about how they're actually meant to be carried out. No surprise as he's never taught or led a classroom.

A number of the initiatives for covid-era teaching have come from him, including the u-turns and backtracking on policies. Over the past few weeks, we have had several major changes in policy and plans over how we're meant to deliver this semester to the point where you cannot plan more than 48 hours ahead, lest you get a lecture/seminar plan in place, only to be told, 'Nope, we're now doing it THIS way.' One is example is how we're meant to record our lectures -- initially, we were told there were three optional platforms, and IT were put to work crafting instruction manuals for all three. Then wonderboy decided only ONE platform should be used for consistency -- the worst and buggiest of the options available -- meaning that all of the instruction manuals were no longer any good, and completely new training had to be thrown together for this fourth platform. I had a colleague in tears as she'd spent a month recording lectures on what was now an incompatible system.

My timetable, which I didn't get until just last week (they usually show up in July), has been changed twice now already, and I'm told a new update is coming through this week. This guy can't decide if we should rota students through hybrid seminars or simply have loads of very small seminar groups so that all students can have face-to-face teaching every week (a rota would mean that students were on campus every other week, instead of all 12, and that is just no good for the student experience according to SM). This has a heck of an impact on teaching, because, for example, one colleague who would have had a large group of students dialling in for a single seminar once a week, now has to teach the same seminar 6 times in a single week due to classroom size and social distancing. However, these hours are not workloaded in, because 'It's the same class, repeated 6 times. So one hour prep, and the rest is just repetition, so it's not any extra work.'

That said, over the past two weeks, he's flipped back and forth over whether or not we should teach on a rota or whether we should have lots of smaller seminars every week, and the timetables keep being updated accordingly.

Apparently, the latest thing this person has demanded (came through last Friday at 1655 -- his favourite time to send around new initiatives) is so outrageous that my HoD claims it was never received by anyone in our programme. Apparently it was some mental scheme that we're expected to phone on Teams, once a week, each student on our modules and to check in with them to see how they're engaging with the work on the module that week and to take note of any feedback from said students and to let them know how we plan to fold it into the subsequent weeks' lessons. I have six modules this team, and roughly a total of 100 or so students. (If I were a student, I wouldn't want a phone chat with my tutor every flipping week, let alone constantly update my lectures/seminars/delivery/whatever!)

It's absolutely mental that this person has so much influence over policy and practice, and that senior management nod and allow all of these schemes to come to pass.

drummersaredeaf -- sometimes you need to rant. You get those sorts of people in the actual department, as well.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: drummersaredeaf on September 09, 2020, 02:02:50 PM
I wonder if my particular problem child is much like yours, Atilla. Made the right noises about student experience in the meetings about student experience and has ingratiated himself into management circles as a result. We're all careful what we say around him, certainly - unless wanting to let things get back to people.

I think what rankles most is knowing he will be one of the cases that coasts through with minimal drama. For me losing supervisors has been absolutely catastrophic - they've recast the school in a new image, and shifted out swathes of good people to replace them with teaching fellows and much different research interests, so now I'm left being supervised by a guy that doesn't know my field. I'm at a proper make or break point - I've had three lead supervisors over the last 3 years, a leave of absence with all the disruption, and I'm left pretty much entirely on my own because the expertise has left. I'm now going to have to beg for a 6-12 month extension, which I feel I should get, but even then the supervision situation leaves me fairly cast adrift. This lad phones up the pro VC for research and is able to start talking about external supervision and having it awarded twice. One day he'll be lauded as an expert on the radio or TV for this shit because he's a rampant self-publicist, and I fear he will never be shown up as a fraud. He is of course, a Tory too. Bizarrely, I'm the one in the office who hates him least.

In terms of the Rona, it has been an absolute disaster for me in that it completely halted the fieldwork I had arranged, having had a real nightmare with access anyway. It is also an opportunity too though, so I have to remain hopeful. It has created the opportunity to beg for an extension which otherwise may not have been granted, and I won't finish without it. I research the world of work, so it will also make findings much more interesting and it will be impossible for an external to argue its not novel. I have found the entire experience has drained me of any enthusiasm for wanting to continue to work in HE though. I see what has happened at mine - a palpable change in mood over the last few years - which has come from management driven 'change' initiatives as much as it has from the marketisation of HE (the two are of course intertwined).

The university is a campus affair, and is clearly doing everything it can to get punters in. I presume it makes a sizeable income off renting accommodation out, but this will surely be proven to be misguided. Imagine 3000 people turning up from all corners of the country and the rest of the world to find that there's a fresh lockdown in November. Trapped in a corridor of 15 people that you've known a month but being unable to leave. Having to leave the accommodation (temporarily?) but wondering if you'll continue to pay rent. This spring/summer it became a ghost town other than the handful of int'l students that couldn't (or chose not to) leave, and I know some lost their mind because I was having to coach them through assignments. It has the potential to go full Big Brother House very quickly, and from experience I know campus universities can be really tedious even when everything is open.

I find myself hoping they fail and cease to exist to be perfectly honest, which was utterly unimaginable 3-4 years ago. A genuinely nice place to work utterly transformed partially through the pressures of the market, but also because some senior managers have wanted to show they can flex and someone had a few harebrained ideas. I hope the UCU really tries to use this as an opportunity to flex though. Health and safety is one of the few areas where unions can try to pull weight, as there is actual concrete law for workplaces to follow. It's also possibly a campaign that even the cunts that won't strike for workloads or pensions could get behind too. Managers always use these 'shocks' as a means to recast patterns of control though, and I fear this, in combination with other assorted factors, will make HE dog dirt across the board.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 09, 2020, 03:07:29 PM
drummersaredeaf, who is this person and where can lay a fiver on them becoming a Tory prime minister by 2050?

Attila, who is your problem child and where can I lay a fiver on them becoming a Blue Sky Thinker to a prime minister?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: His Name Is Death on September 09, 2020, 04:14:43 PM
drummersaredeaf, who is this person and where can lay a fiver on them becoming a Tory prime minister by 2050?

Depends on whether drummersaredeaf teaches at Oxford/Cambridge or not, though I'm surprised at how many of the present cabinet ministers studied at 'normal' universities. Patel must be a first for Keele and Essex, Williamson for Bradford, and Sharma for Salford, unless there were some who just passed me by.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 09, 2020, 04:18:36 PM


The university is a campus affair, and is clearly doing everything it can to get punters in.

I'm guessing Cambridge
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 09, 2020, 04:27:56 PM
drummersaredeaf, who is this person and where can lay a fiver on them becoming a Tory prime minister by 2050?

Attila, who is your problem child and where can I lay a fiver on them becoming a Blue Sky Thinker to a prime minister?

God help us if the pair of them get together.

Don't get me started on the clueless trustfarian colleague who's managed to blag funding this semester, is only heading two team-taught modules, walks to campus courtesy of her spouse springing for a £3M house, and sending around emails saying, 'Just a few updates on how to run your section of the module -- hope you're actually doing some prep work and not hiding under the blankets pretending that the semester isn't starting soon [winking smilie]'.

Fuck. Off.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: drummersaredeaf on September 09, 2020, 04:34:39 PM
No, I'm at a 'normal' second division sort of establishment. My ambitions extended to getting a perm (or at least a decent term) job somewhere in a reasonably sized city, with no pretences that I belong anywhere remotely prestigious. My gaff did have a very good department for my subject, but alas that is now all change. Some of the best in my field are at pretty normal universities too.

I ultimately just want to be able to tell some jumped up prick in bad shoes that it's doctor, actually when I'm back in a shit job. Though all the people I know that have graduated recently have tended to end up in permanent jobs. Some at quite good universities. Maybe there is hope.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 09, 2020, 05:11:02 PM
Depends on whether drummersaredeaf teaches at Oxford/Cambridge or not, though I'm surprised at how many of the present cabinet ministers studied at 'normal' universities. Patel must be a first for Keele and Essex, Williamson for Bradford, and Sharma for Salford, unless there were some who just passed me by.

I'd be surprised if more politicians hadn't gone to Essex. Good for European studies and they get all the best drugs.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: His Name Is Death on September 09, 2020, 05:29:36 PM
I'd be surprised if more politicians hadn't gone to Essex. Good for European studies and they get all the best drugs.

I was thinking of politicians who made it to the cabinet. I know a few who became MPs but didn't ultimately become senior ministers (Bercow most famously), but it looks like Virginia Bottomley was the only other Essex grad besides Patel to serve as one (Secretary of Health, John Major's government).

I also learned that one of our Prime Ministers went to Birkbeck (Ramsay MacDonald), which was my "Fuck me, really?!" for the day.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Camp Tramp on September 09, 2020, 06:58:50 PM
Didn't Bercow go to Essex too?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: shagatha crustie on September 10, 2020, 09:04:36 AM
HE is fucked. Combo of market pressure and this. Uni I work at is in a right flap about reputational risk because of the scapegoating of young people and the inevitability of city wide pissups when they're all back in September, but also alienating students and losing their precious student satisfaction (Bang for Buck) score by not being able to put on any welcome events.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 10, 2020, 09:49:11 AM
HE is fucked. Combo of market pressure and this. Uni I work at is in a right flap about reputational risk because of the scapegoating of young people and the inevitability of city wide pissups when they're all back in September, but also alienating students and losing their precious student satisfaction (Bang for Buck) score by not being able to put on any welcome events.

fuck them, they chose the corporate path, don't let those who work for you or the students get the blame.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: drummersaredeaf on September 10, 2020, 10:17:12 PM
Update on my man:

He's been boasting to friends that he's writing a chapter for routledge on blended teaching during/after covid. To reiterate, his teaching experience is non-existant. He's also managed to swerve the ban on seasonal work by taking a module that falls under my subject knowledge.

Two friends have received the same text telling them how busy he is. Wave 2 can cannot come quickly enough.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on September 10, 2020, 10:21:50 PM
Update on my man:

He's been boasting to friends that he's writing a chapter for routledge on blended teaching during/after covid. To reiterate, his teaching experience is non-existant. He's also managed to swerve the ban on seasonal work by taking a module that falls under my subject knowledge.

Two friends have received the same text telling them how busy he is. Wave 2 can cannot come quickly enough.

I've never even met this guy and I hate him.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on September 10, 2020, 10:23:28 PM
These are the people who coast through life in safety and luxury, totally guilt free.

It drives me mad.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 11, 2020, 07:41:55 AM
These are the people who coast through life in safety and luxury, totally guilt free.

It drives me mad.

Yup -- as above, I've got one in my department. They finally showed up to the sixth and last practice/training/screaming-into-the-void session we had yesterday (six hours' worth on Teams!) to work out how we're going to teach seminars, how to set up the classrooms, etc. Made a big show over being the manic pixie person, asking the same questions we'd already hashed out back in the first meeting, and so tediously had to go over again for them.

They've got a habit of echoing good suggestions and ideas from other people, but with this, 'Heeyyyy -I have a great idea! Why don't we try it this way!' As if thinking up plans, ideas, solutions on their own.

When put on the spot, after bragging about being really tech savvy and knowledgeable about online teaching, all you get from them is a load of waffle and lots of buzzwords to hide that they don't know the answer.

Now I've been doggedly attending all of these, and I do have some background in running a lot of multi-media in the classroom, although not at this level -- but it's allowed me to make suggestions about how to keep things simple and effective for my lesser-techy colleagues, and to offer creative solutons for their traditional means to teach. I've had a lot of positive feedback, and several colleagues have contacted me behind the scenes to admit feeling nervous about the new semester, and just asking for reassurance -- big toughies in my dept, to whom *I* usually turn for help or mentorship. In the meetings, there's been a lot of 'Attila had a good suggestion that...' and 'Wait, Attila, what was it you said about?'

This is intolerable to this person, who has a habit of trying to talk over me in meetings in general, anyway, or interrupting me, or shooting down anything I say (despite later stealing any ideas from me -- and others -- and presenting it as their own). They tried it on yesterday when someone asked me directly a question, talking over me about something completely different. Usually for me it feels like that scene in one of the Austin Power films where the son is trying to talk, and Dr Evil keeps shushing him, til the son gives up in frustration.

Yesterday, I'd had enough of their shit and uncharacteristically jacked up my volume, offered them a cup of shut the fuck up, and suggested they not fucking talk over me when I'm trying to answer someone's question.

Finished answering, then I retreated to my lair of silence, as usual. Really not in the mood for that shit at present.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on September 11, 2020, 05:41:50 PM
We've been reworking all the centrally booked classrooms to socially distance each seat and redid all the classroom information (that no one ever reads anyway). Then this week we had to go in and take out more seats to keep the lecturer 2m or more away from students and redid the classroom information again. There's a good chance we'll have to go back in next week to tape an area of the floor in each room that the lecturer must stay inside, because obviously they can't be trusted to not start licking the students.

I've heard from a good few people that many lecturers are complaining about doing face to face lectures at all this term, but quite what will happen there is hard to say. The uni is strongly suggesting the use of face masks in corridors and classrooms, but is not mandating it, probably because then they'd have to supply the masks.

The R rate is rising and we've got over 15,000 students back in a fortnight.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 11, 2020, 06:39:47 PM
We've been reworking all the centrally booked classrooms to socially distance each seat and redid all the classroom information (that no one ever reads anyway). Then this week we had to go in and take out more seats to keep the lecturer 2m or more away from students and redid the classroom information again. There's a good chance we'll have to go back in next week to tape an area of the floor in each room that the lecturer must stay inside, because obviously they can't be trusted to not start licking the students.

I've heard from a good few people that many lecturers are complaining about doing face to face lectures at all this term, but quite what will happen there is hard to say. The uni is strongly suggesting the use of face masks in corridors and classrooms, but is not mandating it, probably because then they'd have to supply the masks.

The R rate is rising and we've got over 15,000 students back in a fortnight.

Good luck. We got an e-mail today from HoS saying that some staff were not wearing masks when walking around buildings. Glad I'm never going back*

*still need to retrieve my stuff from my beloved** desk

**makeshift

I'll miss the excitement of being first on campus waiting for the canteen to open and getting my morning coffee before the sun had risen. Peace. Out.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on September 11, 2020, 06:58:26 PM
My OU dreams were shattered before they began so I'll have to continue to experience the misery of academia vicariously through this thread!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 12, 2020, 08:37:10 PM
Just went food shopping and saw lots of empty shelves, young adults with their parents doing huge shops for them, groups of people with English accents pointing and laughing at haggis- yep, the students are back in Embra with a vengeance.

I also saw a mother and daughter wearing full hazmat suits while moving the daughter's belongings into halls. I doubt most of the students will be that careful though. Getting a bit worried about a second wave. Might try and get out for a nice meal at the pub before The Sturge declares a return to lockdown.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 12, 2020, 08:47:31 PM
I also saw a young man telling his dad what a ledge he was for buying him loads of beer and steak when his mum would have bought him fruit and pasta. I bet he was called Russell and that in five years' time he'll be a T-shirt and haircut comedian doing a My Dad's A Legend show at the Fringe.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 13, 2020, 12:00:34 PM
It's at times like this that I'm glad I live in an unfashionable part of town.

Freshers' week starts tomorrow. I have most of my ducks in a row, but am still waiting for some people to do their bits so I can finish everything off. I think we will more or less know what we are doing by the time the first lecture goes out.

It'll be interesting to see what happens when the usual Freshers' cough starts. Technically speaking, they will have to isolate and get a test (in the same way that we've all had to as our kids have come home from school with the cold that's doing the rounds at the moment, and happens also to be accompanied by a cough). I have a feeling that this alone will end in-person teaching from around week 2. Might not be a bad thing, all things considered.

[EDIT: bad choice of language]
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 13, 2020, 02:24:21 PM
It's at times like this that I'm glad I live in an unfashionable part of town.

Freshers' week starts tomorrow. I have most of my ducks in a row, but am still waiting for some people to do their bits so I can finish everything off. I think we will more or less know what we are doing by the time the first lecture goes out.

It'll be interesting to see what happens when the usual Freshers' cough starts. Technically speaking, they will have to isolate and get a test (in the same way that we've all had to as our kids have come home from school with the cold that's doing the rounds at the moment, and happens also to be accompanied by a cough). I have a feeling that this alone will end in-person teaching from around week 2. Might not be a bad thing, all things considered.

[EDIT: bad choice of language]

My wager has been on getting through to the end of Week 3, and then moving completely online.

My university has stated, however, that unless the government says we have to go online, we will continue face to face teaching no matter how many cases are confirmed amongst students and staff.

Absolutely no idea how our version of blended learning is going to go (and I have classes on Monday of week 1 next week). I have literally 100s of pages of instructions, templates, initiatives, statements, plans, guidelines that I'm supposed to adhere to. Several times a week I get new ones that supercede the old to the point where I have no idea which is the current one. There is an 18 hours' worth of 'training' online I'm supposed to have sat through -- with much of that material now obsolete.

We've been told that every and anything we've been planning so far may all be for nothing once the 'rule of six' comes into play -- in which case, it's possible that we are reduced to only 5 students in a classroom at a time. This would leave me with roughly 16 seminars to teach every week (were this a normal semester, I would have 3 or 4 on top of lectures). However, we are being paid as if we're teaching the normal workload, because all of these extra seminars are just duplicates of one original, so it's not any additional work.

I wonder if senior management would see it that way: give the same rotten town hall talk 4 times a week, but only get speaker's fee for one because, after all, the other three would just be the same speech three more times and it's not more work, is it.

My laptop will last only an hour or so running Teams off its battery, as Teams eats energy. Two days a week at present, I have five one-hour seminars in a row, and no time to recharge in between (let alone eat, go for a wee, or, in one case, get from one side of campus to the other in the time allotted).

Oh, and it's been noted already that roughly 1/2 of the teaching rooms on campus do not have an HDMI cable which means that lecturers can't plug in laptops to run Teams/record/all the other stuff that they want us to do. (Why they didn't spring for webcams w/mikes for the big, robust desktop PCs in each of the classrooms absolutely baffles me. Instead they bought a bunch of laptops that are apparently problematic -- already -- and in short supply).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 13, 2020, 02:54:05 PM
I'm guessing there'll be no meetings of the student union's Harry Potter society, or twats playing Quidditch in The Meadows. Partly because of Covid, partly because JK Rowling is a TERF.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 14, 2020, 12:50:58 PM
I went back to work last week after months of being away and I have 1,458 emails to read.

Yes reader, I'm going to ignore all of them until my Line Manager asks for something.

Hoping that the second spike forces us into all online teaching asap.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 14, 2020, 12:59:47 PM
I went back to work last week after months of being away and I have 1,458 emails to read.

Yes reader, I'm going to ignore all of them until my Line Manager asks for something.

Hoping that the second spike forces us into all online teaching asap.

Readers, I'm head of IT/Admissions
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 14, 2020, 08:01:50 PM
I went back to work last week after months of being away and I have 1,458 emails to read.

Is that all? I had more than that before lockdown. That's despite having a filter that sends all newsletters to Spam.

Just checked, I have well over 2,000. Think that was also the case back in February tbh. And I don't even teach.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on September 14, 2020, 08:53:13 PM
The timetables are finally out: lots of students have clashes, online and face-to-face classes one after the other and days when they're only in for an hour (which isn't supposed to happen to make things easier for students who commute).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: drummersaredeaf on September 15, 2020, 12:30:06 AM
I know a few people at Birmingham and they've had people back in from today - compulsory to be in at least some of the time I believe, and they're HOTDESKING.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 15, 2020, 07:57:22 AM
I know a few people at Birmingham and they've had people back in from today - compulsory to be in at least some of the time I believe, and they're HOTDESKING.

We've got a hot-desking scheme as well, because it's been declared there can be no more than 5 people at a time in our office block (a part of the building which has about 30 offices in it normally.) They set up a system where you could book time (hour at a time) in your own office during the semester, and immediately a handful of people block-booked entire weeks, including times when they are teaching on another part of campus and then they're working from home. So if you can't get into your office then, you're meant to book workspace in one of several 'staff hubs' elsewhere on campus -- essentially hot-desking with dozens of other people. You can't book office space before 9am, which is a pain in the ass for people like me who take early trains and get to campus around 8am.

We've also been told that whether we're teaching live or working from home that we must answer all student emails within 24 hours (including weekends -- prior to this it was within 72 hours during the business week), and that we must be available on email between 8am and 7pm M-F.

The timetables we have are mad, as well -- and yep, with the rota system for students, some are attending a class live on campus immediately followed by a seminar that meets via Teams. We've already been inundated with students asking to be swapped around on the rota schedule to avoid this, especially as we have a good number of commuters, as well.

I've got teaching days where I have to make a 2-3 hour round trip commute for 45 minutes of live teaching, and days where I have five seminars in a row with barely enough time to run from one side of the campus to the other between them, let along grab something to eat, go for a wee, and even get my stuff set up in the classrooms.

A colleague asked, if we have all of the students on a group actually live in the classroom for a seminar, do we still have to go through the palaver of setting up Teams, recording everything, etc. Yes.

Absolutely dreading the start of classes next week; I've been having anxiety dreams and panic attacks for a couple of weeks now waking me up at nights.

Back to recording lectures...it's so hard now, getting everything recorded, converting to online delivery -- I dread spring semester, where there is far less time due to marking and a much shorter break, to try to get all of the stuff ready for those classes. (And something tells me even if we go back to normal face-to-face lectures/seminars next autumn, the university will still expect us to stream and record everything)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: pancreas on September 15, 2020, 08:11:48 AM
FFS what is your union doing about it? They should be getting regional to endorse industrial action. It's absurd, and you need to threaten to down tools, before you've recorded everything and they can just press play.

And if the union's shit, then take it over.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Norton Canes on September 15, 2020, 09:23:19 AM
30 Spanish overseas students, all in self-isolation as newly arrived on campus last night, decide to celebrate by holding a party.

Gonna be a fun term. Though possibly a very short one.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on September 15, 2020, 09:36:19 AM
30 Spanish overseas students, all in self-isolation as newly arrived on campus last night, decide to celebrate by holding a party.

Gonna be a fun term. Though possibly a very short one.

Question: does anyone here actually expect to make it through the term in its current form?

Here, we're just operating on the assumption that we'll make a clumsy shift online like we did last year (not least because cases are rising and there's the possibility of restrictions being tightened in the city). What I've said all along is that they basically had the choice of going online in a planned and orderly fashion, or deluding themselves with the possibility of keeping campus open and going through a stressful, messy and sudden move online when there's an outbreak in college.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on September 15, 2020, 09:49:39 AM
I’m just rearranging classrooms for the third time due to revised rules.

General feeling here is we’ll last three weeks before an outbreak pushes us online only.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 15, 2020, 10:51:47 AM
Is that all? I had more than that before lockdown. That's despite having a filter that sends all newsletters to Spam.

Just checked, I have well over 2,000. Think that was also the case back in February tbh. And I don't even teach.

Well, I have over 12,000 emails - it's just that 1,400 of the recent ones are unread. Most of them are about covid restrictions and keep changing weekly or so. I think I will wait until the Friday before teaching to take them seriously.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 15, 2020, 12:41:26 PM
I’m just rearranging classrooms for the third time due to revised rules.

General feeling here is we’ll last three weeks before an outbreak pushes us online only.

Union here is just making weak noises that we should go completely online.

Uni has already stated no matter how many cases we get, we stay face-to-face as much as possible (unless the government tell universities to go online, since senior management here is basing its directives on whatever is coming from the government).

Just had an email sent around today that the exciting! perfect! shiny! plan for using Teams....actually doesn't work. Half the Teams that were supposed to be set up for our modules haven't been. They want us to create separate channels on each module Teams page not only for each week's lessons, but each of the multiple sections. It's already causing chaos -- and of course, you know students will get totally confused and sit in the wrong Teams meetings every week because there are so many, &c.

Absolute clusterfuck.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on September 15, 2020, 12:44:31 PM
The government here has just unveiled its confusing new plan, and is now talking about keeping universities open as one of its top priorities, alongside keeping children in school. Dulce et decorum est...
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Small Potatoes on September 15, 2020, 04:52:13 PM
This bit in particular:


We've also been told that whether we're teaching live or working from home that we must answer all student emails within 24 hours (including weekends -- prior to this it was within 72 hours during the business week), and that we must be available on email between 8am and 7pm M-F.



is absolutely horrific, Attila, and surely your UCU branch (I appreciate they are often rather toothless - our own branch is good at individual casework, but hopeless at challenging broad policies) should be contesting this? It's setting a precedent for an unacceptable minimum 55-hour work week, and that's without mentioning the requirement to answer emails at weekends. Covid or not, your management are taking the absolute piss here. I'd recommend contacting Jo Grady directly, or at least your regional office, for guidance, and at the very least publicising the behaviour of your management. I haven't heard of friends at any other institutions facing anything quite so draconian, but we know from experience that as soon as one institution gets away with it it becomes written into every contract as "standard practice across the sector, so shut the fuck up and get back to work".

Edit: just realised that pancreas has said pretty much the same thing. If your local branch is housetrained, go over their heads. We're all grateful to have jobs in this climate, etc. etc., but fucking hell you're being treated disgracefully.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 15, 2020, 04:56:53 PM
Yeah, my Uni now pushing Blackboard Collaborate instead of Teams or Zoom.

Haven't had training on BB for donkeys so I think I will just continually blame it on my PC until they buy me a new one.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Small Potatoes on September 15, 2020, 05:06:16 PM
Yeah, my Uni now pushing Blackboard Collaborate instead of Teams or Zoom.

Haven't had training on BB for donkeys so I think I will just continually blame it on my PC until they buy me a new one.

We're getting our first Collaborate training tomorrow (term starts on Monday), and have just found out that management have emailed students to say "each of your lecturers has recorded a video describing their modules for the coming year, and they'll be going live at 8am Monday morning". First I've fucking heard of it.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on September 15, 2020, 05:58:26 PM
Fourth time rearranging classrooms and had to work late to manage it.

If I never see another classroom table it will be too soon.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: sirhenry on September 15, 2020, 06:16:14 PM
I'm guessing there'll be no meetings of the student union's Harry Potter society, or twats playing Quidditch in The Meadows. Partly because of Covid, partly because JK Rowling is a TERF.
None of that muggle talk down here in Leeds - the Quiddich society have decided that the best way to deal with all the current problems is to continue to play but without brooms, so it becomes an even more contact sport with some dodgeball thrown in. Expiriamus!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 15, 2020, 06:29:06 PM
This bit in particular:

is absolutely horrific, Attila, and surely your UCU branch (I appreciate they are often rather toothless - our own branch is good at individual casework, but hopeless at challenging broad policies) should be contesting this? It's setting a precedent for an unacceptable minimum 55-hour work week, and that's without mentioning the requirement to answer emails at weekends. Covid or not, your management are taking the absolute piss here. I'd recommend contacting Jo Grady directly, or at least your regional office, for guidance, and at the very least publicising the behaviour of your management. I haven't heard of friends at any other institutions facing anything quite so draconian, but we know from experience that as soon as one institution gets away with it it becomes written into every contract as "standard practice across the sector, so shut the fuck up and get back to work".

Edit: just realised that pancreas has said pretty much the same thing. If your local branch is housetrained, go over their heads. We're all grateful to have jobs in this climate, etc. etc., but fucking hell you're being treated disgracefully.

That business about the emails? That's an old policy -- we've been asked to limit email writing/sending to between 8am and 7pm during the work week in the past. (Ie, not to send emails and expect answers/action outside of those times or at weekends) -- the main reason they were reiterated is because people have been sending emails and expecting action all over the shop since earlier this summer.

There's been pushback about the 24 hours response -- apparently students on one programme (not in my Faculty) complained on the NSS this year that staff didn't answer their emails fast enough, so this came down as an initiative. In the past, it's been 72 hours during business-hours.

Current fave of mine is that we have to have weekly meetings with each year's cohort to see how they're doing, get feedback from them, see if there are any issues facing them that we need to address. I get so little time to do anything this semester because of this hybrid learning scheme and all of the additional prep/constant changes, I really don't want to add an extra meeting to my workload every week!

It could be worse, as there has been almost daily new initiatives to make sure that the students are happy and getting good value for money, etc.

My goal right now is to survive the semester, and pretty much not think ahead by more than about a week at a time.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Small Potatoes on September 15, 2020, 07:15:31 PM
That business about the emails? That's an old policy -- we've been asked to limit email writing/sending to between 8am and 7pm during the work week in the past. (Ie, not to send emails and expect answers/action outside of those times or at weekends) -- the main reason they were reiterated is because people have been sending emails and expecting action all over the shop since earlier this summer.


That makes total sense, and a policy I try my utmost to adopt and request that my students (and staff, when I was a HoD) do the same - I make a point of NOT reading my emails after 5pm, and tend to push any received after then to the very bottom of my to-do list for the next day. But you mentioned that you "must be available on email between 8am and 7pm M-F" which is a different issue, and seems to imply that you are expected to be checking (and acting upon) any email received within that timeframe, implying an "always-on" employee relationship which is at odds with the aforementioned policy. Apologies if I've misread, but these seem like two very distinct policies with very different ideas about staff wellbeing. Being available 9-5 would be a reasonable demand, given that our contracts (and workload models, lest we forget) are for a nominal 37 hours a week. I know we all do more than that, but is your institution really saying that you can't swtich your work email off at 5pm, but need to be "available" until 7pm every day?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on September 15, 2020, 10:45:59 PM
We're getting our first Collaborate training tomorrow (term starts on Monday), and have just found out that management have emailed students to say "each of your lecturers has recorded a video describing their modules for the coming year, and they'll be going live at 8am Monday morning". First I've fucking heard of it.

My favourite Blackboard Collaborate quirk is that it runs only on a module by module basis. So if you have one lecture taken by several modules, then, well, you need to either find the workaround (which we are working on here) or teach it twice.

We've recently changed our entire module structure, so any student trailing is, for what we all hope is one year only, on a different module entirely. We need to find the workaround, or teach it thrice.

My main issues all revolve around labs now. New university policy on lab coats, so we have no lab coats. New university policy on safety goggles, fingers crossed they arrive on the 21st. No guidance on what to do if students do not obey the social distancing etc rules in the lab. Placement chap has decided not to update anything over the summer, so we're currently flying blind on numbers.

Once that's sorted, I may be able to prepare for my lectures! Thankfully only 5 before Christmas and, err, 20 hours of tutorials.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 15, 2020, 11:00:39 PM
That makes total sense, and a policy I try my utmost to adopt and request that my students (and staff, when I was a HoD) do the same - I make a point of NOT reading my emails after 5pm, and tend to push any received after then to the very bottom of my to-do list for the next day. But you mentioned that you "must be available on email between 8am and 7pm M-F" which is a different issue, and seems to imply that you are expected to be checking (and acting upon) any email received within that timeframe, implying an "always-on" employee relationship which is at odds with the aforementioned policy. Apologies if I've misread, but these seem like two very distinct policies with very different ideas about staff wellbeing. Being available 9-5 would be a reasonable demand, given that our contracts (and workload models, lest we forget) are for a nominal 37 hours a week. I know we all do more than that, but is your institution really saying that you can't swtich your work email off at 5pm, but need to be "available" until 7pm every day?

You do raise very good points -- it's actually something as a dept we do need to clarify == my dean is actually being protective here, in that he doesn't want people to feel that they ought to be answering emails before 8 or after 1900, or expecting others to, as well (he's a big believer is putting emails on daily -- so at 8am on Mondays, one receives a barrage of emails).

Senior management are the ones banging on about the 24 hour response time no matter what day it is. And I've noticed from emails I receive that roll in on weekends, after hours, and when I'm on leave, people deffo expect an answer -- not students, but  certain colleagues or managers who seem to assum that we're all checking and acting on emails 24.7.  My fave so far is an email that arrived at 9pm on the Saturday of the Bank Holiday that just passed, demanding that depts let management know who would be representing programmes on a suddenly new open day -- and letting them know by 9am that following Tuesday.

The dean said he did acknowledge that some people do indeed work at night and fire off emails -- but not to expect any answers except between 8 and 19.00.

It's all overwhelming. I have a flexible work contract, and when I initially applied (asking that all of my teaching fall between 9 and 4pm rather than 9 an 6pm -- which before the official contract was no problem at all, and I even invariably had at least one day with no teaching at all), the dean hesitated, saying that if I went 9 to 4pm -- even knowing that I'm frequently at my desk and working from 8am -- that I would be losing too many hours out of the time I am expected to be on call (which is 9-6pm M-F). I've had the flexible contract for about 3 years now, and it's been fine in terms of squashing in my 5 and 6 modules every semester.

The real pain in the arse was the previous dean, who fully expected people to start back at work from midday on Sundays -- they would frequently send around emails on Sunday afternoon with stuff they expected to be actioned and back in response by 9am on Monday. They also had a habit of suddenly summoning you to their office for a 10 minute meeting -- and if it was a non teaching day, that might mean having to race onto campus, despite the commute involved. The present dean never pulls that shit, for which my faculty is grateful.

So it's a confusing policy -- we  are expected to be around to answer emails during those times if we're not teaching, but there is a sort of mixed message that it's considered polite only to email people during those times and not before or after. On the positive side, I do have an exceptional group of colleagues who pretty much down tools at 5pm and will make it very clear in subject headngs if something is an emergency, or anything that can wait til the next day. My head of dept is supportive to this extent as well.

I think management is trying to take the mick since we've gone so much on line, and also a knee-jerk reaction to a handful of students complaining that they don't get responses to emails within minutes of sending them at 2am or whatever.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 15, 2020, 11:06:09 PM
Apologies for all of the mad posts -- been inundated with so many directives, intitiatives, documents, handbooks, templates (100s of pages over the past month or so) on top of the crazy workload, and then all of the last minute reversals and changes, I hardly know if I'm coming or going anymore.

Latest thing is a note from the VC's office that staff are responsible to noting any signs of covid in our students and making sure they fill out a boatload of forms, &c.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on September 15, 2020, 11:13:28 PM
Quote
Latest thing is a note from the VC's office that staff are responsible to noting any signs of covid in our students and making sure they fill out a boatload of forms, &c.

Again, that's mental. And - basically - not our job.

The guidance we have, and I quote directly, is that "If anyone shows any symptoms of Covid-19 while in the lab, contact Campus Safety ... immediately. They will be removed from the lab and taken to the ground floor first aid room, where appropriate guidance, support and first aid will be provided."

It may not be perfect, I am sure its got loopholes, but it feels sane.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 16, 2020, 11:02:08 AM
Yes, I must say that the problems we're experiencing here are very much in the "First World" category compared to what Attila is going through.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 16, 2020, 11:08:07 AM
I sort of wish I was back at the office to see these things unfold in real time.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 16, 2020, 12:32:30 PM
Yes, I must say that the problems we're experiencing here are very much in the "First World" category compared to what Attila is going through.

Yes, I've just had an email from the lab manager telling us that as our lab building was the "test case" for the whole of The University of Embra we'll also be ramping up our already OTT anti-Covid measures in preparation for a potential return to Lockdown Phase 2. Lucky us... Nah, I'd rather we were being overprotected than thrown to the wolves, I feel for you Attila.

No undergrads in our building either now. That's a big relief. Though I guess the medics will still be attending tutorials elsewhere on campus so I'll be trying to cycle in more and getting the bus in less often.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 16, 2020, 05:18:08 PM
Cheers, all -- apologies for going all whingey every time I post!

Who knows, maybe everything'll fall into some sort of rhythm once the semester starts...I don't expect much in the way of down time, as it's going to be a constant scramble to get materials sorted, especially with all of the meetings suddenly springing up (people seem to have the attitude, hey, it's on Teams, no excuses not to attend! Plus we can keep adding and adding and adding them, cos all you have to do is dial in, right?

I just sat through an ethics 'training session' with mike and camera off, folding my washing and doing some general tidying that I haven't had any time for).

I don't even want to think about spring semester, trying to do everything that I'm doing now crammed into the short xmas break + all of the marking that will be due.

I honestly cannot figure out the colleagues who are bragging on Twitter about all of the research they're doing at the moment, reading, writing drafts, travelling to archives -- how?....
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 17, 2020, 07:00:02 AM
There’s still a little bit too much that’s up in the air for my liking, but partly this is because I’m the kind of person who likes to have everything nailed down months in advance and all contingencies explored, whereas I get the impression that others in the organisation actively enjoy being in essay crisis mode.

We’ll get there, but I could do without the sleepless nights.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on September 17, 2020, 07:56:15 AM
There’s still a little bit too much that’s up in the air for my liking, but partly this is because I’m the kind of person who likes to have everything nailed down months in advance and all contingencies explored, whereas I get the impression that others in the organisation actively enjoy being in essay crisis mode.

We’ll get there, but I could do without the sleepless nights.

Similar here, but I do find the latter cohort in the department slightly hard to tolerate now that we're, you know, no longer students.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 17, 2020, 08:01:08 AM
Yes, I've just had an email from the lab manager telling us that as our lab building was the "test case" for the whole of The University of Embra we'll also be ramping up our already OTT anti-Covid measures in preparation for a potential return to Lockdown Phase 2. Lucky us... Nah, I'd rather we were being overprotected than thrown to the wolves, I feel for you Attila.

Our institution is quite federated and although there’s supposed to be a common set of rules / principles, some units are more zealous about generating their own unnecessary local by-laws than others. I asked our H&S manager if I had completed all the training to get back into my office for teaching - as I was fairly sure there were some magic secret online modules behind a third party portal that an email search failed to locate. The answer was effectively a shrug, so I take it that I am fully compliant with the legislation...

Been talking to UG students this week. They seem to be pleased to have something to do in their lives again, and they all seem to understand the principle of responsible behaviour. Whether this gets put into practice remains to be seen.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 17, 2020, 08:03:05 AM
Similar here, but I do find the latter cohort in the calendar slightly hard to tolerate now that we're, you know, no longer students.

Ha. I have form for making this point in staff meetings. Generally speaking, the staff that whinge the most about students display the same characteristics as colleagues.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 17, 2020, 01:31:08 PM
If anyone knows about webcams or using a laptop as a webcam to enable a user to use Zoom/Teams better for teaching I would appreciate it greatly.

https://www.cookdandbombd.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=82686.msg4321112#msg4321112
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: dr beat on September 17, 2020, 01:59:23 PM
There’s still a little bit too much that’s up in the air for my liking, but partly this is because I’m the kind of person who likes to have everything nailed down months in advance and all contingencies explored, whereas I get the impression that others in the organisation actively enjoy being in essay crisis mode.

We’ll get there, but I could do without the sleepless nights.

I find most of my department operates in essay crisis mode at the best of times, and its most frustrating as I think more work is created through people not planning ahead, taking a bit of time to think things through and considering smart ways of addressing problems.  I worry that the culture in my dept is leading people to reinvent wheels with regard to teaching online.  So much more heat than light.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 17, 2020, 04:15:07 PM
If anyone knows about webcams or using a laptop as a webcam to enable a user to use Zoom/Teams better for teaching I would appreciate it greatly.

https://www.cookdandbombd.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=82686.msg4321112#msg4321112

Rudely glomming on to this request for suggestions for a decent webcam w/mike, please -- we have to use laptops at the moment in the classroom rather than the far more robust and bigger desktop computers. Teams will eat through a laptop battery in about 70 mins or so, uselsss when I have four or five seminars in a row.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 17, 2020, 04:16:29 PM
On the positive side, certain types of students will never change.

Best pre-semester freshman email so far: rando student in the humanities (which covers about 7 departments and god knows how many courses and programmes) sent a group email to about 30 of us, single line, 'So are any lectures/classes online this semester, or what?'

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on September 18, 2020, 10:28:32 AM
"online poll" - everycunt sayin "online poll" what the fuck is "online poll", and how I use teach?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 18, 2020, 12:50:26 PM
Dear colleagues: Yes, classes start on Monday. Stop emailing me to ask how to record videos and how does Team recording work and how do you Stream -- because you've waited til today to make any attempt to record a lecture. There have been training sessions and 1-2-1 tutorials available for weeks at this point. In fact, I was made fun of for trying to engage in them weeks ago, raising many of the same questions I'm now getting from colleagues who've had a peek at my Canvas pages and want to know how I've embedded lectures and activities, and why it's not taking me 4 hours to record a single 45 min lecture anymore...

Colloeague on my programme and I were on a Teams call this morning having a chat. He's collected the face shields we're supposed to us. Very cheap piece of plastic held together by an elastic strap that over-stretches the first time you try to use it. They are obviously bulk-made crap like the freebie stuff you can buy in bulk to hand out at conferences (like cheap pens and that). Awful piece of kit, an absolute joke -- he's also seen people wearing them backwards (shield in front, but with the foam part that's meant to rest against your head facing out) and with the protective film still covering the plastic part.

Even better news: he did the Year 1 meet and greet on Wednesday, and had to do it on campus as part of freshers' week initiatives to show them that we're all about being on campus.

He was there, about 15 of our 20-student course cohort were there, a couple of admins came in (as they were visiting all of the fresher meetings), student union pres. A few other guests.

Email from one of the Year 1s this morning: 'Hi, I've had to go into isolation as my roommate is showing symptoms of Covid. If her test comes back negative we're ok, I guess?'

So we're looking at the possibility of a single student leading to a lockdown/isolation of how many? And we've not even formally started classes yet.

Then the dean sends out an email this morning admitting that half the tech plans and hybrid learning plans are still a bit of a muddle, and yeah, everything is probably going to be a huge clustefuck next week -- so could we all report back as 'beta testers' and let them know how our clases go, so they can work on any changes that we might need to implement.

::pulls party popper::
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on September 18, 2020, 12:52:21 PM
same here
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 18, 2020, 01:42:44 PM
I'm looking for talented academics to join my team here at JBC ;)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 18, 2020, 02:47:18 PM
At this point, I just have to laugh: a colleague who is leading one of the big modules -- ie, the entire year cohort is on it, and we're all contributing various lectures -- is in a state of panic, as he's just now seen that the students have full administrator and editing privileges on the bespoke Team created for that module.

One of the students has sent out, over the past hour, 30+ invites for people to join him in meetings on that Team stream, and has been uploading files, photos, and all sorts of things on the Team. Nothing untoward (not at the moment), but pretty much just running rampant on this page which is meant to be reserved for class meetings, files, and other materials -- and only tutors are supposed to be permitted to have this access.

It's going to be a complete and utter clusterfuck from next week, isn't it.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 18, 2020, 02:58:01 PM
Our teaching starts on the 5 October which will be useful as it gives us a chance to see all the fuckups before we start.

I am pretty sure that the limited f2f teaching we are expected to do (that I will 100% definitely NOT be doing) will be vetoed before then anyway.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on September 18, 2020, 03:08:30 PM
we're full-on f2f - no blended, just ploughing headfirst into Covid soup
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Cursus on September 18, 2020, 03:24:33 PM
Is anyone else attempting (or being forced) to teach seminars concurrently, i.e., with some students online while others attend in person?

It seems to me that this is the worst of all possible worlds, and is likely to leave everyone unsatisfied and the lecturer run ragged.

It also contradicts most of the previous guidance/educational theory about teaching online, which stresses how different online learning is from teaching in a regular classroom, and argues that it therefore requires a different approach in order to succeed.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on September 18, 2020, 03:31:04 PM
Nope because it's impossible. Offering 1-2-1 online support for students who miss sessions with an "authorised absence".
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 18, 2020, 04:21:49 PM
Is anyone else attempting (or being forced) to teach seminars concurrently, i.e., with some students online while others attend in person?

It seems to me that this is the worst of all possible worlds, and is likely to leave everyone unsatisfied and the lecturer run ragged.

It also contradicts most of the previous guidance/educational theory about teaching online, which stresses how different online learning is from teaching in a regular classroom, and argues that it therefore requires a different approach in order to succeed.

Yup -- that's my university. It's not going to work.

100% online or 100% in the classroom would be way better for seminars. Most of my seminars are based on small group work and workshops, peer-reviews of drafts, &c.

We've already run a few welcome week orientations online, and 100% of the students who attended kept their cameras and mikes off. Just a wall of avatars. No one speaks up, no one has asked a question. No one has answered any questions. You have no idea if you're getting any reactions, positive or negative, just looking at gormless student ID photos. This happened at the end of last semester, too, when we were doing quick and dirty live sessions -- students would join in, then sit there silently, so you ended up feeling like a fool talking to the camera, since you had no reaction from any of the students.

You can't tell me that they aren't going to log in and go off and do something else during that hour -- I have done similar during the mad training sessions we've had at various points over the summer.

I plan to practice the guitar during a useless two-hour mental health counselling training workshop we're meant to have in two weeks (not mental health for us -- another initiative at my university is to force a percentage of staff in each dept to take on a roster of 20-30 students and act as mental-health counsellors and advisors over their 3 years. Absolute shite -- two hours powerpoints to 'train' me to do what my cousin, a genuine child psychologist, has been studying, training, and practicing for almost 40 years).

Hybrid learning is going to be absolute shit -- I'd rather give the lectures live and do seminars completely online.

We simply do not have the classroom configuration for seminars, not with social distancing. One colleague has been plunked down in an enormous lecture hall for seminar with her 18 students (it otherwise seats 150 people).

Not only do I have to do the seminar type with half the students there, and half dialled in, I have other seminars are are 'too big' for that type of blended learning, so I have to teach two smaller groups the same material, back to back. I wouldn't care if it were two lectures back to back. I did that in the USA a lot. But leading two different seminar groups back to back is exhausting, especially if you get one group that's really quiet, and one group that's lively.

We have to record all seminars, even if all of the students are there in person (the smaller groups all meet in person). In the case of two seminars on the same module: we have to record them so that students on Seminar A see Seminar A's recording ONLY, and students on Seminar B see Seminar B material only. Except at the moment, Teams isn't letting people set up exclusive streams.

None of this shit works, none of it has been beta-tested; many of the classrooms, a colleague discovered today, do not have HDMI cables.

We have been advised that it might be easier to use the laptop as a webcam, and actually teach using Teams through the desktop. THEN WHY NOT SUPPLY WEBCAMS INSTEAD OF SHITTY LAPTOPS?

I am shouting into a void, I know.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 18, 2020, 04:32:16 PM
You really shouldn't be agreeing to teaching f2f at this point. I mean, your line managers should be protecting you.

There is no way I am stepping foot in a teaching room, and my colleagues feel the same. It's going to be a game of chicken/Mexican standoff in a couple of weeks I assume.

The students I have spoken could not give two fucks about online teaching. Many of them are delighted that they can wake up and attend a seminar in bed whilst eating their corn flakes.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on September 18, 2020, 04:55:32 PM
Chaos reigns here. They started allocating teaching hours yesterday...just as the government's scientific advisors told them to lock down the city and impose restrictions on universities. It's now confirmed that we will be under restrictions for at least three weeks.

They will use every trick in the book to get us teaching f2f and they already seem to be using vague wording in a joint statement issued by the three main universities here that they will "use discretion" in deciding whether to take a particular class online or not.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 18, 2020, 05:25:21 PM
Solidarity, but I'm sort of glad I didn't get those lecturer positions I applied for earlier in the year...even it means swimming in the belly of the beast instead.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 18, 2020, 05:26:03 PM
PS -- gawwd, the VC just sent around an email saying our campus is now fully open, and there are 'no confirmed cases of covid on campus or in the area.'

Seriously?

Seriously?!

According to the tracker I look at, there have been 32 reported cases of covid in the city and environs around that city in the past 24 hours.

And that we are to come onto campus and teach unless we can demonstrate authentically that we have covid symptoms, or that we have been asked through the government's track and trace to remain in isolation.

They're also ragging on students who are having parties and gatherings of more than 6 people. And they're supplying students with a handy form to rat on each other if they see any gatherings of 6 or more on campus.

ETA -- so they are adamant that we MUST teach on campus and that there is NO covid on my campus, and anyone who tries to teach from home/online only could face disciplinary action unless they can demonstrate with full documentation why they can't be on campus.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on September 18, 2020, 05:30:27 PM
More on preparing classrooms for Covid. We had to label some tables near the front out of use because they're too near the lecturer or whiteboard (where the lecturer might stand).

Classes have not properly got going for most and we've already had one lecturer peel off all the 'don't sit here' labels for their class.

So in response we've had to physically remove the furniture because we can't trust the academics.

I despair.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 18, 2020, 05:39:13 PM
I think the UCU have the best grounds possible at the moment to call a national strike, in partnership with Unison. Our UCU branch has already told the VC that we won't be teaching f2f unless they can prove with scientific data that there is a negligible chance of contracting or spreading the virus. Which they can't, of course.

I've already had covid once, I also have chronic asthma. I probably cannot drink caffeine or alcohol for the rest of my life, if I want to protect my renal system. They would need to lead me into a classroom at gunpoint. I know that sounds a little dramatic but I'm just prepared to do something so stupid it could kill me. I'm more careful with the drugs I take than the Uni is about our safety. The issue, of course, is that they know that serious/fatal cases amongst groups of 18-21 year-olds is so low that they can throw a dice on all of us half-dead middle aged cunts with depleted immune systems.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Absorb the anus burn on September 18, 2020, 05:47:48 PM
I think the UCU have the best grounds possible at the moment to call a national strike, in partnership with Unison. Our UCU branch has already told the VC that we won't be teaching f2f unless they can prove with scientific data that there is a negligible chance of contracting or spreading the virus. Which they can't, of course.

I've already had covid once, I also have chronic asthma. I probably cannot drink caffeine or alcohol for the rest of my life, if I want to protect my renal system. They would need to lead me into a classroom at gunpoint. I know that sounds a little dramatic but I'm just prepared to do something so stupid it could kill me. I'm more careful with the drugs I take than the Uni is about our safety. The issue, of course, is that they know that serious/fatal cases amongst groups of 18-21 year-olds is so low that they can throw a dice on all of us half-dead middle aged cunts with depleted immune systems.

Your own health and safety trumps the Cummings Herd Immunity strategy.... Fuck those cunts.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 18, 2020, 05:48:12 PM
I don't think you're overreacting.

I'm 55, in good physical health (really got my act together over the past year in terms of diet and exercise), and I seriously, seriously do not want to cop a dose of this shit.

But our senior management is convinced that working from home = skiving, and also all this 'giving the students the best experience' bullshit as a cover for 'we need their tuition to pay out 6-figure wages.'

I'm required to do all of this face-to-face teaching, to wear a shittily made face shield which will fall apart after the first wearing, to scrub and clean the classroom before I teach and then afterwards -- but the students aren't required to wear masks in the classroom. Voluntary only (they have to in the hallways, shop, and library, but not in the classroom.)

Mr Attila has asthma and marfan's -- a regular old head cold or flu flattens him; what's this shit going to do?

And the pressure I feel from both here at the house and at school is that if I get ill, it will be my fault. Good times.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 18, 2020, 05:52:25 PM
Attila I hope you get through this unscathed. Please focus on the night time activities of the critters if things are getting too stressful. I know that doesn't solve problems but it will obviously give you perspective. Each time that fox hears a noise from upstairs and looks in fear, it's equivalent to you receiving an e-mail from the VC.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on September 18, 2020, 05:53:52 PM
I hope you at least find some comfort in the fact that I'll be alright.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 18, 2020, 05:56:35 PM
Attila I hope you get through this unscathed. Please focus on the night time activities of the critters if things are getting too stressful. I know that doesn't solve problems but it will obviously give you perspective. Each time that fox hears a noise from upstairs and looks in fear, it's equivalent to you receiving an e-mail from the VC.

:) Thanks, B -- to say it's a wee bit stressful is an understatement. 

I think a lot of  people in my dept are worried right now. So many changes, so many risks, none of the stuff they want us to do is set up correctly, and blllegguugh.


I hope you at least find some comfort in the fact that I'll be alright.

:)

My management's attitude and approach to all of this is just so awful :(

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on September 18, 2020, 06:00:41 PM
Fuck, didn’t realise you’d had it. Sounds shite - did they actually find kidney damage?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on September 18, 2020, 06:02:28 PM
That was in response to Puce’s post - forgot to quote it.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Cursus on September 18, 2020, 06:27:23 PM
Thanks for the insights everyone. I hope you're all able to get through this coming academic year safely and with a minimum amount of fuss.

I was recently turned down for a temporary post which would have involved quite a bit of concurrent teaching. While I'm in dire need of the money, I'm also relieved I don't have to pretend it's something I'm eager to do, nor do I have to be on campus all that much. 
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 18, 2020, 07:45:58 PM
Fuck, didn’t realise you’d had it. Sounds shite - did they actually find kidney damage?

General renal damage because it did a number on my organs (I couldn't keep liquids down for 5 days and my temperature went skyhigh). I should have gone in to hospital really, but everyone was telling me that it would be more dangerous because they didn't understand in the moment that it was covid (ironically). I was admitted as an emergency case a couple of months ago and they went in and tried to sort them out (including removing some small and one large stone). I had a stent in for a few days which was a right barrel of laughs. A thread hanging out of the old chap ready to be pulled out through my bladder and cock. My wife did it in the end (pulled out the stent I mean).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: pancreas on September 18, 2020, 08:47:07 PM
we're full-on f2f - no blended, just ploughing headfirst into Covid soup

WTF? How on earth are they going to keep social distancing working? Has the UCU branch poked holes in their risk assessment? Ventilation? Unless it all checks out—it won't—then report them to the local HSE office.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: pancreas on September 18, 2020, 08:54:42 PM
PS -- gawwd, the VC just sent around an email saying our campus is now fully open, and there are 'no confirmed cases of covid on campus or in the area.'

Again: just forward the VC's email to the local HSE office. Say that management is irresponsible and is making dangerous, unhinged remarks. Ask them to intervene immediately. Do it from an anonymous account if you are worried about it.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on September 18, 2020, 09:54:49 PM
General renal damage because it did a number on my organs (I couldn't keep liquids down for 5 days and my temperature went skyhigh). I should have gone in to hospital really, but everyone was telling me that it would be more dangerous because they didn't understand in the moment that it was covid (ironically). I was admitted as an emergency case a couple of months ago and they went in and tried to sort them out (including removing some small and one large stone). I had a stent in for a few days which was a right barrel of laughs. A thread hanging out of the old chap ready to be pulled out through my bladder and cock. My wife did it in the end (pulled out the stent I mean).

Sounds rough.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 18, 2020, 10:41:00 PM
Sounds rough.

I shat the bed. Quite liberating.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Camp Tramp on September 19, 2020, 01:26:07 PM
My university is now looking for 'Campus Welfare Champions' to safeguard our safety and social distancing in the uni facilities.

I know for a fact that this job will attract people who are looking for the tiniest bit of power and that CWC's will be the most reviled people on campus. Obviously I won't touch it with a bargepole.

I base this statement on my experience of the 'Social Distancing Marshalls' we have at my current employment, who are inadequate little Shitler's who get ignored until they run crying to a manager. Despite often being the person who is breaking the rules in place.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on September 19, 2020, 01:27:47 PM
That's very Quiet Bat People isn't it?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on September 21, 2020, 04:43:13 PM
There are a good few students wandering around my uni but what is noticeable is the near total lack of academics. There weren’t many around last week, but now it seems that unless they absolutely have to be in they aren’t.

The roads were a lot quieter this morning as well compared to the last few weeks
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 21, 2020, 04:50:58 PM
I haven't been into my office since March. Strongly suspect that my plants are dead and that pink refillable UCU coffee cup has Cthulhu growing in it.

I have no intention of going up until next year, even though I need some books. I might actually just re-buy them and then sell them off.

I assume every single University city will be on lockdown before the end of October - especially two-Uni cities.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 21, 2020, 05:40:14 PM
I haven't been into my office since March. Strongly suspect that my plants are dead and that pink refillable UCU coffee cup has Cthulhu growing in it.

I have no intention of going up until next year, even though I need some books. I might actually just re-buy them and then sell them off.

I assume every single University city will be on lockdown before the end of October - especially two-Uni cities.

I've still got to return some DVDs to the Uni library and my contract is ending in a week or so. Bah, I'll just bin them.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 21, 2020, 05:53:23 PM
My amusingly phallic cactus will definitely be flaccid by now. I also have to wonder how disgusting my Donald Trump mug is looking now. Probably a lot less.

My department has a system by which researchers are designated Priority 1, 2 or 3. It seems to be based on how much supervision a person needs, and how much of their job they can do from home, so it means
PIs and PhD students are Priority 3, while postdocs and technicians and other laboratory grunts are priority 1 or 2.

I am the only Priority 1 person in my group so if we go back to an earlier phase of lockdown that means I'll be doing all the lab work for an entire group. Yippee.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 21, 2020, 05:54:53 PM
My first day back -- a lot of students, and actually a number of bods in my hallway (I'm in one dept, but my office is in the hallway of a different dept). Most staff are going in to teach and then bailing out again almost immediately. Very strange, as I'm so used to going in really early and making a full day out of it.

Seriously aggravating email sent around to all of us from the VC today, a lot of rah rah shit about how we're all one big family who care about each other...with not so subtle hints that we will be held responsible for any loss of student retention over the next two semesters.

Just about everyone is having various issues with trying to do teaching via Teams -- my seminar was 'ok' -- none of the kids wanted to talk while we were being recorded, but got lively the minute I shut the recording off. I'd rather not record, either, but we're required to. Everyone showed up, but that's the first day,innit.  Trying to get students to talk across the seminars I have every week is going to be exhausting.

Loads of emails from other students though, asking if they can just attend online this semester instead of the alternating weeks in the room and online.

It would take Christ almight himself to get us 100% online, though -- senior management have repeatedly said that we will NOT go online unless the government orders it. They've also told staff NOT to allow students randomly to go online for the whole semester. Any student who wants to go online has to demonstrate to the dean and then the DVC, with supporting documents, why s/he is vulnerable and needs to be online.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 21, 2020, 05:57:28 PM
I saw some students having a barbecue in Holyrood Park today. Cunts. I'll set the swans on them.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 21, 2020, 06:09:26 PM
I saw some students having a barbecue in Holyrood Park today. Cunts. I'll set the swans on them.

Two new swans arrived today at my lake and proceeded to try and kill the two remaining cygnets. The mother being banished to the smaller pond and looking desolate. Fucking swans.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 21, 2020, 06:18:51 PM
A load of Canada Geese arrived at my Loch this week but they seem to be keeping their distance from the swans and the cygs. I am concerned that a turf war may break out.

Anyway, I hope the park rangers told the students to get tae.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 21, 2020, 06:42:53 PM
Fucking hell Attila. Your Uni would be shoving a P45 up my arse.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 21, 2020, 06:58:59 PM
A load of Canada Geese arrived at my Loch this week but they seem to be keeping their distance from the swans and the cygs. I am concerned that a turf war may break out.

Anyway, I hope the park rangers told the students to get tae.

I heard those geese pass over last night, heading northward. Pretty sure they would be the same geese.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 21, 2020, 07:04:03 PM
Nah, they were already there on Friday, maybe there are more now. Do they navigate by following the LNER tracks? I wonder.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 21, 2020, 07:34:44 PM
Had my first lecture today. It was a success in the sense that it happened at all (there were quite a lot of technical problems), although pedagogically I'm not sure there was much to say for it.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 21, 2020, 07:57:56 PM
Fucking hell Attila. Your Uni would be shoving a P45 up my arse.

:)

We've had a number of students already reporting in that they're isolating. Several colleagues have been hacking and wheezing from headcolds -- cannot wait to have a cold and have to deal with a facemask. (I get really sloppy sinuses when I have a cold).

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 21, 2020, 08:05:02 PM
Had a bit of an asthma attack cycling home and am still a bit wheezy. That should be fun for scaring people off.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: pancreas on September 21, 2020, 11:28:07 PM
Getting some rumours coming in from some schools that they've decided to go fully online.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 21, 2020, 11:58:16 PM
For my sins I sit on the Uni exec council. A taste of a conversation today:

"But doesn't it make sense to plan now for total lockdown and full online teaching? We can have something we can put into place within hours if we plan properly."

"It's unlikely to happen - let's just put our energy into combined teaching. The campus is now open and there are no new cases."

"Well, campus is currently a ghost town so..."

"Anyway, let's arrange the next meeting - ummm, October 22nd?"

"Will that meeting still be online?"

"Yes, I will be in Melbourne until December."

"I see."

Paraphrased but that's what happened.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 22, 2020, 12:30:50 AM
After today's commute through Holyrood Park I am fully expecting to hear the air ambulance flying overhead to rescue a few students who wanted to see the sunrise over Embra and thought climbing Arthur's Seat in the pitch dark would be a piece of piss.

Our last flat had a great view of Arthur's Seat and we'd see a few flashlights up there most nights, like a miniature Torchlight Procession. We'd also see the occasional helicopter whenever someone tripped and broke their ankle. The view was spectacular but it was also like having NumptyVision.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: SpiderChrist on September 22, 2020, 07:18:31 AM
Had a bit of an asthma attack cycling home and am still a bit wheezy. That should be fun for scaring people off.

I sneezed in Sainsburys yesterday (Hay fever/rhinitis) and this old fucker gave me the proper stink-eye.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 22, 2020, 07:20:25 AM
Christ, sounds like our senior management, Puce Moment, down to denying that there is any covid on campus (despite students already having to isolate) and senior management demanding loads of on-site stuff from us whilst themselves being conspicuously absent.

The wunderkind who advises them on intiatives has given us all a new one: we have to have (via Teams) weekly 'coffee meetings' with the three year cohorts, to touch base and get feedback on how they are doing mentally and academically.

Considering the response we had to the Welcome Week chats online, I see maybe some of them showing up the first week, and then diminishing returns thereafter. Because we have to record everything, the students will not speak up -- my group yesterday, which was an almost 100% turnout, would not speak at all in seminar except the barest minimum. As soon as they knew I'd stopped the recording, they were lively and very keen on the subject matter for the upcoming semester.

It could be worse, though, as he proposed initially that each module have a support group meeting like this each week, with the tutor preparing a PowerPoint slide of student comments for that week, how we  responded to those comments, and how we would be taking forward the students' feedback for the rest of the semester, and presenting that at the start of each week's meeting. I have six modules this semester.

No one did any of the advance prep work to support what should have been yesterday's discussion. To be fair, it was the first week, and I did tell them this isn't stuff we're doing IN class, but FOR class, so we'll see what happens next week...

As for social distancing, and the DVC's scoldy email/video sent around last week about illicit campus parties and how they are trying to get the Student Union to grass on the students who go into town to hang out: walking on campus yesterday between classes, I saw very little social distancing, students hanging out in large groups with their friends, messing about -- just students being students. They're wearing their masks in the corridors and when they cross campus, but not in the classroom (and it's optional for them in the classroom -- we can ask them, but we can't compel them to wear masks once inside.)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 22, 2020, 08:39:03 AM
Attila, stand up to management, they are not academics, they are the antithesis of academia. Tell them to fuck off. they cannot fire you as they'll be shooting themselves in the foot.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 22, 2020, 12:20:53 PM
Management can make me redundant, tho, by closing my programme (Classics is pretty small at my uni).

Meanwhile, how does management contact everyone at the uni? By sending out a tweet, of course!

Colleague just alerted me to a tweet from the university that they will make 'an announcement' at the close of play today in response to Gove's statement that if people can work from home, they should work from home.

Knowing my university, we will be told to carry on and continue to come into campus to increasingly smaller and smaller groups of students.

It IS all a bummer, as I really want to get back to ordinary teaching, if and when that time ever comes. It is great to be on campus and hanging out grumbling with my colleagues, working with the students...online learning puts a strain on everyone.

But management is going to be absolutely determined to squeeze as much 'student satisfaction' out of live teaching as possible. They dithered and waited til the last possible instant last March to get us off the campus.

Mr Attila keeps insisting that we'll be switching to online only, but I'm like, dude, how long have you known me, and seen what senior management at my uni is like?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on September 22, 2020, 12:51:05 PM
Oh for fuck's sake! Communicating important decisions by sending out a tweet - that's familiar.

The latest news here is that although we'll be online only for the next few weeks at the very least (because of government restrictions), the university is preventing individual faculties and departments from making a consistent decision about how to approach the rest of the term because it's desperate to make us teach in-person.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 22, 2020, 12:59:53 PM
I just put this in the back to the cubicle, wage slave thread:

Quote
Super waffly new restrictions in the Guardian now. Apparently the covid adheres to curfews and knows to go after the 16th person attending a wedding.

My university will use the loophole that we are a 'covid safe' campus to keep us open (Mr Attila doesn't believe me,,,but there's to be 'an announcement' following the PM's new dictat from the VC this afternoon). The VC keeps insisting that we are a 'covid-free' and a covid-safe campus -- despite classrooms where you can't open windows, shiny new hand sanitiser boxes that have nothing in them, students already reporting that they have to self-isolate (and we're only 2 days into the semester).

On the plus side, I guess that means at least the trains I have to take will be deserted, if Monday was any indication.

Working & even teaching from home, I have got so much done - no worry about the commute, no 4 hours wasted out of my day on the commute, so much savings...just going to campus Monday, that was four hours eaten out of the day to teach for 45 minutes.


I guarantee we'll be required to continue the wonderful hybrid learning scheme. 100% online teaching, I think, could be really effective -- right now, though, I feel as if I'm trying to hold down a full time job (online teaching, prep, etc) that is constantly being interrupted because four hours out of the day is being eaten up with commuting, and additional hours to sit in a classroom that's half live/half virtually attended.

Yep -- re: the tweet. Nothing in email so far. Most of our students and many staff are NOT on Twitter or social media. I'm sure it's on the front page of our currently non-navigable intranet (big switchover midway through last spring, and now you can't read or find anything on it -- the home page used to be the proper intranet for staff and students, now the front page is literally what the public would see if they were googling the university. You have to wade through several pages and links actually to get to useful on-campus info and annoucnements).

I never had anxiety issues before, but fuck me this is making my head hurt this afternoon. This is like when we've had snow/bad weather, and my university has absolutely refused to close (which on one occasion led to support staff being stranded overnight on closed roads) when every other university in the region shut.

Like you, buttgammon I'm at a university absolutely determined to have face to face teaching this semester, no matter what the cost or conditions.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 22, 2020, 01:09:11 PM
What would Hippocrates do?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 22, 2020, 01:16:25 PM
What would Hippocrates do?

I'm a Roman historian -- the question would be, what would Sulla or Octavian do?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on September 22, 2020, 01:20:27 PM
Sulla would have had the entire backbenchers murdered, drone striked Turkey and then fucked off to retire on a farm in the Cotswolds or something.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 22, 2020, 01:56:27 PM
Sulla would have had the entire backbenchers murdered, drone striked Turkey and then fucked off to retire on a farm in the Cotswolds or something.

I've just put together my Year 2 lecture on Sulla, and that's so close to his reality.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 22, 2020, 05:04:40 PM
And there it is -- admins and professional staff at my uni: are now required to work from home (unless there is something absolutely essential they must do).

All teaching staff must continue to teach on campus, and are only permitted on campus to teach. New rule: teaching staff must wear face shields at all times to protect the students; students are no required to wear masks in the classroom.

This is all in response to the PM's announcement today about working from home where possible, etc.

Unless we have demonstrable proof that we are vulnerable/need to shield, we must continue to work on campus or face disciplinary action.

No surprises, then.

They have supplied us each with a single, really shitty face shield -- any suggestions for where I could get something a bit more sturdy? I see this one getting pretty skanky if not falling apart in a couple of weeks.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on September 22, 2020, 05:07:32 PM
Wtf? I know little about workplaces but surely this breaks some sort of guideline or discrimination policies. Forcing certain employees to come to work like that. Would that be cause for a strike or union talks?


I've just put together my Year 2 lecture on Sulla, and that's so close to his reality.

I know my complicated dictators!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 22, 2020, 05:09:59 PM
Wtf? I know little about workplaces but surely this breaks some sort of guideline or discrimination policies. Forcing certain employees to come to work like that. Would that be cause for a strike or union talks?



At this point, I honestly don't know -- they sent the email around at 1655 as usual, knowing people are taking breaks from screens/email.

If I could disappear myself from the planet, I would do it in an instant. Not feeling my best at the moment as this news sucks a bit.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 22, 2020, 05:59:57 PM
I guess it's not looking great on the finding a new job front either?

Here I am applying for a maternity cover job- hey, it'd buy me a bit more time before DESTITUTE SOON. I have also been looking at an NHS teaching job- not quite my thing, but it is permanent at least. Until the Tories decide to start laying more people off.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 22, 2020, 06:04:00 PM
Sadly, no -- there's nothing out there. I had some applications out last spring due to other reasons, but searches have been suspended.

I was looking into what I would do if I was part of the redundancy cull over the summer, so I have some plans; no idea how viable they are. I wish I could make people at home understand how stressful all of this is, and how it's making me feel at the moment. Sigh.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 22, 2020, 06:04:04 PM
I know my complicated dictators!

He's a complicated dictator/And no-one understands him but his women

SULLA!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on September 22, 2020, 06:06:37 PM
If office workers are to be kept at home for another few months then I'm fucked for work searching still. Feels really weird to not even really be searching for work with any purpose.

He's a complicated dictator/And no-one understands him but his women

SULLA!


Hehe
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 22, 2020, 06:09:37 PM
And there it is -- admins and professional staff at my uni: are now required to work from home (unless there is something absolutely essential they must do).

All teaching staff must continue to teach on campus, and are only permitted on campus to teach. New rule: teaching staff must wear face shields at all times to protect the students; students are no required to wear masks in the classroom.

This is all in response to the PM's announcement today about working from home where possible, etc.

Unless we have demonstrable proof that we are vulnerable/need to shield, we must continue to work on campus or face disciplinary action.

No surprises, then.

They have supplied us each with a single, really shitty face shield -- any suggestions for where I could get something a bit more sturdy? I see this one getting pretty skanky if not falling apart in a couple of weeks.

those face shields are shit (see Coronavirus thread), take the University to court, fucking hell.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 22, 2020, 06:12:18 PM
I would say I wish I was a virologist right now, but there isn't even much research work on the 'vid unless you're a clinician- fair enough, finding a safe and effective vaccine is a priority right now but any government less crap than ours should be funding basic research on emerging novel coronaviruses and the monitoring of potential new pandemics

My usual Plan Z- to go and work in a call centre for a bit- probably won't be an option this time. I do at least have my own bike though, so I guess I'll just have to become a Deliveroo rider instead.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 22, 2020, 06:52:22 PM
I can't really copy and paste any of this stuff because it would expose the institution I am employed by, but our UCU is fucking HAMMERING the VC. It's all preemptive - when the shit hits the fanny they will be able to pull these out and say "well we did ask, and you did nothing."

If I was a VC I would seriously be thinking about the possibilty that I could get prosecuted for this down the road.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 22, 2020, 06:53:21 PM
I would say I wish I was a virologist right now, but there isn't even much research work on the 'vid unless you're a clinician- fair enough, finding a safe and effective vaccine is a priority right now but any government less crap than ours should be funding basic research on emerging novel coronaviruses and the monitoring of potential new pandemics

My usual Plan Z- to go and work in a call centre for a bit- probably won't be an option this time. I do at least have my own bike though, so I guess I'll just have to become a Deliveroo rider instead.

JBC is hiring right now. Come join us!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 22, 2020, 06:58:46 PM
Sorry, JBC?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 22, 2020, 07:06:31 PM
Sorry, JBC?

https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/joint-biosecurity-centre (https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/joint-biosecurity-centre)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 22, 2020, 07:15:13 PM
I can't really copy and paste any of this stuff because it would expose the institution I am employed by, but our UCU is fucking HAMMERING the VC. It's all preemptive - when the shit hits the fanny they will be able to pull these out and say "well we did ask, and you did nothing."

If I was a VC I would seriously be thinking about the possibilty that I could get prosecuted for this down the road.

I had signed off my email after I got that email from the VC, but just had to check it for something for a student - yeah, our UCU guy is getting absolutely hammered with emails from everyone at the uni, and he's hopping furious (not at us, but the directive being handed down).

I've just been to a construction website that sells protective gear, and got myself a pack of disposible face shields for what it's worth. They look a hell of a lot better made, as far as these things go, than the absolute shit we've been given to last for 12 weeks. It astonishes me that 'ALL STAFF MUST NOW WEAR FACE SHIELDS' in the classroom is the ONLY thing that's being said to staff that's new (it was optional before; we're not allowed to wear face masks) -- and it was made clear it is to protect the students. This after all of the articles on the news about how face shields really are useless.

The email sent by 'senior management' (it wasn't signed by the VC) is really hastily put together, just a lot of bullet points, and there's a lot of bolding and all caps all over it about how we are committed to face to face teaching, how the PM has said unis must remain open (did he? I didn't see that in the Guardian's recap), and how we MUST continue to teach face to  face according to our timetables or face disciplinary action.

Mr Attila honestly couldn't believe it - he thought I was just being a miseryguts when I told him. Support staff are being told to stay away. We're being told we should not be in our offices at all now -- just coming in to teach and then fuck off campus asap. So how am I meant to do that, when I have hour long gaps here and there in my timetable? How am I meant to do that when one train gets me to campus an hour before my class, but the next would make me late?

I know online teaching isn't the ideal, but needs must. The VC and management are really exposing their greed now.

ETA -- I had a boatload of emails from students begging me to let them attend classes only online as our rota system is really fucking up the students who commute -- some of them have a 10am class they have to attend in person, folowed by an 11am class online, followed by an inperson class!

I can't allow it -- the process is that they have to convince the dean that they have a geniune medical condition, and then it has to go to the DVC for approval.

We've also got the opposite -- students rocking up to the classroom when they were supposed to be dialling in on Teams, and having to tell them to leave. It didn't happen to me on Monday, but apparently the past two days there have been issues (and angry students who had commuted in just for class, only to be told they had to go sit outside and dial in on Teams because the room was at capacity).

I'm myself finding it really hard to concentrate and get everything done, with still converting a lot of stuff to online delivery, respond to a million emails, sit in on all of the new Teams meetings, training sessions, tutorials, feedback sessions I'm meant to attend. It's an absolute clusterfuck. There are very success online university courses (OU, for example) who aren't at home to Mr Cockup, so why is the situation so fucking dire?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on September 22, 2020, 07:19:11 PM
Surely ordering you not to wear face masks is illegal?

At the very least anonymously tip the local paper and Private Eye off about that one.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 22, 2020, 07:21:20 PM
Surely ordering you not to wear face masks is illegal?

At the very least anonymously tip the local paper and Private Eye off about that one.

We are ordered to wear face shields in the classroom; face masks everywhere else. No one is allowed to teach with a face mask (because of hearing impaired students) -- apologies that I wasn't clear. I'm a bit frazzled and ranting at th emoment.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on September 22, 2020, 07:30:11 PM
No, I got it.

I still think banning a face mask is not on especially as face shields are useless.

I work at a uni, but I don’t have to actually share a room with students at any point. Most support staff are still working from home, and us in facilities management have the office door locked and a window hatch open instead (the office is an old reception).

No one here can see face to face teaching in non-practicals surviving more than a fortnight.

If I was a lecturer I’d start ‘developing’ Covid symptoms and begin self-isolating.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 22, 2020, 07:45:05 PM
The system is corrupt and needs tearing down (I say with 1 week left before I leave academia).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 22, 2020, 08:05:04 PM
No one here can see face to face teaching in non-practicals surviving more than a fortnight.

If I was a lecturer I’d start ‘developing’ Covid symptoms and begin self-isolating.

Sadly it's been made clear here that we will be face to face unless the government explicitly says 'stop.'

Might have have to pretend, as we've already had students going into isolation. Staff have to fill out a fuckton of forms and prove that we really have the symptoms, &c., as management are convinced we're all just  bunch of scivers. Exhibit A is from last March, when they tried to order everyone to install a work-tracking app on our home computers/laptops, since they are convinced that WFH = just being sat around being lazy.

The fact that for the past 48 hours people have been run ragged trying to carry out the mad initiatives for on campus teaching with software that doesn't work, entire buildings with no HDMI cables, and all sorts of tech issues should be a clue for them, but, nah.

I came to this university because it was a lifeline and a chance at a much better career than I'd had up til then :(
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 22, 2020, 08:55:45 PM
University's have been corrupted and gutted in all but the top tier - well they are as corrupt but at least you'll have excess HDMI cables at Oxford.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on September 22, 2020, 09:02:44 PM
University's have been corrupted

ahem.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 22, 2020, 09:18:40 PM
My colleague has quite a strong speech impediment AND quite a strong Swedish accent that students get used to eventually (in the 3rd year) but he's really looking forward, indeed relishing, the chance to get in-class to deliver a lecture with a facemask on as he already cannot be understood by just about everone he encounters.

Of course online teaching would solve that, but he is absolutely delighted to record his lectures and upload with the hope they end up on Youtube by some canny screen-capturing software student.

This has tickled me a great deal.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 22, 2020, 09:37:38 PM
ahem.

precis.

mock me, but its early onset dementia, so if you're fine with that, laugh away's.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 22, 2020, 10:40:15 PM
My colleague has quite a strong speech impediment AND quite a strong Swedish accent that students get used to eventually (in the 3rd year) but he's really looking forward, indeed relishing, the chance to get in-class to deliver a lecture with a facemask on as he already cannot be understood by just about everone he encounters.

Of course online teaching would solve that, but he is absolutely delighted to record his lectures and upload with the hope they end up on Youtube by some canny screen-capturing software student.

This has tickled me a great deal.

Excellent.

My lectures all have to be recorded and close captioned, and CC is doing amazing things to Greek and Latin terms.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 23, 2020, 07:59:31 AM
Quelle surprise:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-54261668
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 23, 2020, 09:19:55 AM
Ton of emails this morning from students wanting to know if they can simply switch to online, since the PM says we have to work from home as much as possible.

Staff were already reprimanded on Monday for allowing students to dial in rather than attend in person. Students are being told they actually have to have proof of a medical reason why they have to attend exclusively online -- simply being cautious, afraid, or having an utter faff of trying to fit a commute around rando rota scheduling won't cut it.

Reminder from the dean this morning that we have to wear face shields to teach, and we are to collect our face shield from the faculty office -- the good news is, it's ours to keep!

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Bleeding Kansas on September 23, 2020, 09:24:50 AM
Look out for a face shield deduction on your next payslip.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 23, 2020, 09:26:49 AM
Look out for a face shield deduction on your next payslip.

Cost for them: .001p

Deduction from my wages: £20
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 23, 2020, 11:24:54 AM
Outbreak at Edinburgh Napier's halls now. Oh goody.

About to cycle to werk, no way I'm getting on a bus for the foreseeable future.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 23, 2020, 11:54:25 AM
We now have four confirmed cases in our main building (cavernous and cathedral like compared to the tiny pinch point buildings in the rest of the campus). This is playing out like the most boring, predictable action movie of the 1980s where you can see each beat of the story coming within the first 5mins.

Pre-sessional English language tuition for international students.

LOL
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 23, 2020, 05:40:57 PM
Email from a student to the programme leader of my programme, paraphrased more or less: 'Hi, my mom lives me in houseing near the campus. Anyway, she's tested positive for covid, should I self-isolate?'

Said student has already been on campus, hanging out with friends, and attending class.

Awesome.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on September 23, 2020, 05:55:34 PM
Can't wait til winter, every campus will be like The Thing.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 23, 2020, 05:58:04 PM
Wednesday evening. All the sports teams are out and about in big close groups. "Cigs, we're young and fit, we're in no danger..." Expecting Bollock Halls to be cordoned off any minute now.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Camp Tramp on September 23, 2020, 09:33:18 PM
Email from a student to the programme leader of my programme, paraphrased more or less: 'Hi, my mom lives me in houseing near the campus. Anyway, she's tested positive for covid, should I self-isolate?'

Said student has already been on campus, hanging out with friends, and attending class.

Awesome.

American student? I'd be worried that Mom is described like a parasitic entity.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 24, 2020, 05:57:27 AM
American student? I'd be worried that Mom is described like a parasitic entity.

British student -- I'm the American hybrid who still uses colonial vocab over here.

Up early to get a train onto campus this morning, after another wonderfully sleepless night (class at 10am, but the 930 train gets me in too late, the 830 train is full of school kids, and so the one I'm taking at 730 means I get campus around 8 -- and I'm not sure if I can actually get into any of the buildings as I think we're forbidden from being in any building before 9am now. Tipping down with rain, so I'm hoping one of the cleaners will let me in. Only supposed to be on campus for 'essential business' -- i.e. teaching staff only in classrooms at classtimes -- which I'm trying to keep to, but yeah.)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 24, 2020, 08:42:17 AM
Our Uni deciding to run the term late this year (decided over a year ago) on the 5 October is making me weep with relief and happiness. Still well over a week until apocalypse happens by which point most other Unis will have stuck enough canaries into the mine for their to be some kind of formal decision.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 24, 2020, 08:50:57 AM
Yay -- happy to report that I can ninja into the building from as early as 630 if I want -- it pays to befriend and to be good to the cleaning team (there is generally no one around til about 9, even under normal circs. Handful of the archaeology researchers, but I would swear some of them actually live in the labs.)

Boo -- the train I took is the one the local college kids get; very few of them wearing masks. The guard kept going through the corridors telling people/them to put their masks on, and just got a lot of 'ha ha yeah yeah' back.

Ah, the immortality of youth.

I've now got a 2 1/2 hour 'live' class -- 10 students in the room, 10 dialling in. Trying to keep my laptop alive on Teams for 2 + hours should be fun. Recording, trying to lecture, trying to lead a seminar, all the while monitoring the room, and the dialled in students, trying to keep an eye on the chat in teams.

(People are reporting that the students, on discovering chat, just sit chatting away about everything but classwork; we've recently been sent a Guide to Chat Etiquette, as some of the students have been abusive towards their tutors via chat, thinking we can't see it.)

The Borg cannot come soon enough - I welcome assimilation.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 24, 2020, 08:52:31 AM
Our Uni deciding to run the term late this year (decided over a year ago) on the 5 October is making me weep with relief and happiness. Still well over a week until apocalypse happens by which point most other Unis will have stuck enough canaries into the mine for their to be some kind of formal decision.

Friend at home is a librarian at the university I went to/taught at. 200 confirmed covid cases on campus in the past week -- compared to 200 all summer in the actual town itself.
My university here is still taking the hardline that if we have outbreaks, staff will still come onto campus to teach those students who aren't isolating.

Eventually it's going to be me and one other person, while everyone else dials in.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 24, 2020, 08:56:41 AM
Yay -- happy to report that I can ninja into the building from as early as 630 if I want -- it pays to befriend and to be good to the cleaning team (there is generally no one around til about 9, even under normal circs. Handful of the archaeology researchers, but I would swear some of them actually live in the labs.)

Boo -- the train I took is the one the local college kids get; very few of them wearing masks. The guard kept going through the corridors telling people/them to put their masks on, and just got a lot of 'ha ha yeah yeah' back.

Ah, the immortality of youth.

I've now got a 2 1/2 hour 'live' class -- 10 students in the room, 10 dialling in. Trying to keep my laptop alive on Teams for 2 + hours should be fun. Recording, trying to lecture, trying to lead a seminar, all the while monitoring the room, and the dialled in students, trying to keep an eye on the chat in teams.

(People are reporting that the students, on discovering chat, just sit chatting away about everything but classwork; we've recently been sent a Guide to Chat Etiquette, as some of the students have been abusive towards their tutors via chat, thinking we can't see it.)

The Borg cannot come soon enough - I welcome assimilation.

Stick this thread up on the screen
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 24, 2020, 09:01:06 AM
Apparently the dean is surprised that many of us are so tired and demoralised at the moment.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on September 24, 2020, 09:22:30 AM
Tempted to try and ditch the permanent lectureship for a 5 year fixed term research-only post. Or drive a van for Tesco.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 24, 2020, 09:28:40 AM
My university here is still taking the hardline that if we have outbreaks, staff will still come onto campus to teach those students who aren't isolating.

Mate, it's not the 1800s. Do you even have a UCU branch at your Uni? Are you a member?

Do you have any kind of medical issue that could facilitate an exemption? If you are worried about lying or exaggerating, please console yourself that you would probably be safer at this point joining the marines, and the pay is better.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 24, 2020, 09:31:46 AM
Mate, it's not the 1800s. Do you even have a UCU branch at your Uni? Are you a member?

Do you have any kind of medical issue that could facilitate an exemption? If you are worried about lying or exaggerating, please console yourself that you would probably be safer at this point joining the marines, and the pay is better.

Yes -- UCU at this uni, and yes, I'm a member. They had an emergency meeting about all this palaver yesterday.

Nope -- I'm healthy as a fucking ox (at the moment, anyway).

Fuck knows -- maybe they're change their minds when students start having to self-isolate en masse.

Meanwhile, gotta go to class here in half hour or so, so need to prep. 2 1/2 hours, but hey, the windows are open!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 24, 2020, 10:45:43 AM
Ooof, sorry to hear that.

This might cheer you up:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-54278053

Would you send your kid to Uni? I fucking wouldn't.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: icehaven on September 24, 2020, 10:59:17 AM

(People are reporting that the students, on discovering chat, just sit chatting away about everything but classwork; we've recently been sent a Guide to Chat Etiquette, as some of the students have been abusive towards their tutors via chat, thinking we can't see it.)

The Borg cannot come soon enough - I welcome assimilation.

I've been in a few meetings/seminars on Teams where some participants seem to forget they're not on their own social media and say things on chat or even out loud that they'd be far less likely to say if we were all in the same room. A few months ago there was a Teams seminar with about 150 attendees on the reactions to Black Lives Matter protests and what the council can do to improve equality etc. The chat managed to just about stay on the right side of offensive but there were definitely a few who had clearly momentarily lapsed into Twitter mode and didn't quite get that all their colleagues, their boss, their boss's bosses, and every other council employee and various others were reading what they'd written in real time.
I'm the complete opposite, I'm so paranoid that I'll forget people can see and hear me because it feels like they can't that I barely move or speak, and I don't bother with the chat as I can't follow what's being said in the actual meeting and what's being written at the same time. It's theoretically useful if there's far too many participants for it to be practical to have everyone on the screen and potentially speaking, but in practice you can't keep up with both.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Braintree on September 24, 2020, 11:14:51 AM
Attila; this is awful. I sent my friend who works at an Oxford University College Library some flowers yesterday because it sounds like utter chaos but it doesn't feel enough. I am really worried about her and everyone working in those environments. It clearly isn't safe and just because deaths are low now doesn't mean they will be in the next couple of weeks/months.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 24, 2020, 11:18:27 AM
I'm always on FOI alert so I put shit in writing as little as possible, hence never using Teams chat unless I am just saying 'yeah' or 'no'.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 24, 2020, 12:07:45 PM
I've been in a few meetings/seminars on Teams where some participants seem to forget they're not on their own social media and say things on chat or even out loud that they'd be far less likely to say if we were all in the same room. A few months ago there was a Teams seminar with about 150 attendees on the reactions to Black Lives Matter protests and what the council can do to improve equality etc. The chat managed to just about stay on the right side of offensive but there were definitely a few who had clearly momentarily lapsed into Twitter mode and didn't quite get that all their colleagues, their boss, their boss's bosses, and every other council employee and various others were reading what they'd written in real time.
I'm the complete opposite, I'm so paranoid that I'll forget people can see and hear me because it feels like they can't that I barely move or speak, and I don't bother with the chat as I can't follow what's being said in the actual meeting and what's being written at the same time. It's theoretically useful if there's far too many participants for it to be practical to have everyone on the screen and potentially speaking, but in practice you can't keep up with both.

I just had a meeting in Teams with the government, prominent academics, key policy makers etc, even wore a shirt...I was intimidated so minimised the window so the speaker could just be seen. I just about managed to reign in a rant about Boris...quickly switched to grid view and was once more cowed. Some fuck that I messaged privately in chat stole my idea and got a thumbs up when I announced it. That was my only contribution.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 24, 2020, 12:55:18 PM
Just finished an absolute disaster of a 2 1/2 hour class meeting. Tech started acting up, just a domino-effect clusterfuck. The students were good eggs, but you could tell they were getting restless. I have NO idea why this particular class has to be so long -- a mix of lecturing and seminar, half the kids in the room, half dialling in.

I haven't been this frazzled and upset after a teaching session since I was a brand new teaching assistant about 30 years ago -- usually this is my favourite module to teach -- and would have been today, if I hadn't had to wrestle with balky equipment, having to start and stop recordings four or five times, and just all of the attendant bullshit of trying to wrangle both live and online participants.

Going home now -- tipping down with rain -- so I can get back to all of the other work I need to do to prep for four hours of this stuff again on Friday (another two hour class and then back to back seminars of the same module.)

I'm going to whinge here and say, I don't think I can keep this up for anothr 11 weeks.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 24, 2020, 01:22:24 PM
Fucking hell - none of our online teaching sessions are allowed to be more than one hour.

I seriously think you need to go and murder your VC and all his (I assume) underlings. You might also want to consider an anonymous Twitter account to document this. There are going to be some doozies as the term starts proper.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on September 24, 2020, 02:21:06 PM
By comparison, I spent the morning cleaning a loafing shed and wheelbarrowing wire fencing up and down and I feel bloody great.

The lesson: fuck off jobs where you have to deal with cunts and tech.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 24, 2020, 02:25:18 PM
Fucking hell - none of our online teaching sessions are allowed to be more than one hour.

I seriously think you need to go and murder your VC and all his (I assume) underlings. You might also want to consider an anonymous Twitter account to document this. There are going to be some doozies as the term starts proper.

We received special permission to have these 'two hour classes' on the condition that we teach for an hour, take a 15 minute break, then teach for an hour. That was a departmental request, not management.

Management's rule is one hour sessions only.

I'm back at the house now, having ranted at Mr Attila. Really frustrated an headachy right now.

There are days when I miss my sheep farm, bgmnts. I'm seriously not kidding when I've asked Mr Attila to consider us upping sticks and moving to Scotland so I can have a little farm again, and maybe run a spinning/weaving shop, crafty whatever. Sadly he's not keen on moving at the moment, so I'm stuck with slogging through this stuff.

Anyone in my programme who claims that everything's been going 100% groovy is lying.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on September 24, 2020, 02:42:39 PM
6 hour (3 + 3) block mode sessions starting next week.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 24, 2020, 03:15:06 PM
By comparison, I spent the morning cleaning a loafing shed and wheelbarrowing wire fencing up and down and I feel bloody great.

The lesson: fuck off jobs where you have to deal with cunts and tech.

A wise man speaks from the bottom of a damp, earthy garden. In the gloaming. In autumn. Brilliant. Perfect.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 24, 2020, 05:04:32 PM
A friend at a different University down the road has forwarded me the email sent from their branch of UCU to the VC. It's pretty fucking damning, even moreso than our own UCU branch, and includes tasty morsels as this:

"This branch notes:
- There have been regular consultation meetings between the Executive Board and our UCU Negotiating committee since the start of the pandemic
- That, during these consultation meetings, our UCU Negotiating committee has constructively engaged with proposals for a safe return to campus, the protection of all jobs, a revised workload model to address the new working conditions set by the pandemic
- That the University has instrumentally referred to these consultations in communication with all staff
- That, in such communications, the University has instrumentally omitted to report UCU’s concerns and strong disagreement
- That the University appears to engage with these negotiations only to gain legitimation but with no real intention to meaningfully engage with UCU’s proposals
- That the UCU and UNISON Health and Safety reps report on the campus tour of the 4th of September declares the campus unsafe for the imminent reopening to students and staff.

This branch believes
- That the University Executive Board cannot be trusted for meaningful consultations and negotiations
- That our UCU branch should not accept any compromise on safety, job security and the mental health and wellbeing of all staff

This branch resolves:
- To declare a collective dispute if an individual opt-out procedure for face-to-face teaching during the COVID crisis is not offered to all staff
- To call on the University to make the default mode for teaching online-only for the duration of the COVID crisis
- To formally urge the University to stop all redundancies of Part Time Hourly Paid colleagues
- To demand a new workload model negotiated via UCU
- To demand the protection of research time, funding and support
- To explore the possibility of declaring a formal dispute with the University if the demands above are not addressed.

This branch notes:

- The continuing failure of management to address the culture of bullying at **********. We particularly condemn attempts to utilise the disciplinary process to victimise any UCU member for their involvement in our recent "Four Fights" industrial action.

This branch resolves:
- That it will use all means at our disposal to defend members, including lawful industrial action, and calls on senior university management to rein in perpetrators forthwith."

If your UCU branch is not responding in this way then vote the useless reps out. If you are not in the UCU I don't mind paying for your potential safety, but please join if you can.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 24, 2020, 05:10:34 PM
Who would have thought the first pillar of nouveau-capitalism to fall would be the institutions of enlightenment.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 24, 2020, 07:46:45 PM
Students in Scotchland told: "Don't go to the pub":

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-54285720

Yeah, that'll work.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: SpiderChrist on September 24, 2020, 08:02:59 PM
Ooof, sorry to hear that.

This might cheer you up:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-54278053

Would you send your kid to Uni? I fucking wouldn't.

I fucking did.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 24, 2020, 08:37:06 PM
Students in Scotchland told: "Don't go to the pub":

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-54285720

Yeah, that'll work.

My WhatsApp has been buzzing all evening on this. We’re writing. A letter.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 24, 2020, 09:19:05 PM
I fucking did.

I hope they don't die or cause the death of anyone else. Truly.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 25, 2020, 11:40:36 AM
Halfway through another day of shambles -- Teams not sharing powerpont slides, and two hours in a classroom with the aircon cranked up so high I am still shaking fromthe cold -- that's their idea of circulating air, I guess.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on September 25, 2020, 11:42:16 AM
Airconditioning? It's autumn in the uk for fuck's sake.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 25, 2020, 12:11:50 PM
The aircon system in that building is either blowing boiling hot air, or freezing cold. All of the other rooms have their windows wide open. There's no heating on in my office block yet, so I am still shivering from the cold of that classroom. I'm bundled up in a big wool cloak I keep in here for the winter.

Word on the street is the uni is about to come under inspection for not providing the covid-safe conditions it claims to have had. Dunno if that's a rumour or not, but apparently just having stickers all over the place and asking staff to report any students who look feverish might not be cutting it.

Just listening to the students, and what they get up to in the halls of an evening...it's not a matter of if I'l get covid, but when.

::blows party popper::
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 25, 2020, 12:44:03 PM
Halfway through another day of shambles -- Teams not sharing powerpont slides, and two hours in a classroom with the aircon cranked up so high I am still shaking fromthe cold -- that's their idea of circulating air, I guess.

Yes, there are issues with PP and Teams. Zoom better for that.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on September 25, 2020, 01:27:52 PM
We were meant to be doing all teaching on Blackboard Collaborate but we've taken out a Zoom license, so it seems so flexibility will be afforded. Less than a fortnight before teaching starts and we still don't know for sure. Looking at what's happening where some of you are still teaching face-to-face I know I'm lucky to only have technological issues to worry about, though.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 25, 2020, 01:50:57 PM
I got an email from the Head of the Faculty letting me know that see-through masks are now available to pick-up for students who lip-read.

I replied letting her know that I won't need to wear a mask on teams, zoom, blackboard collaborate or whatever fucking software they get around to choosing.

No reply as of yet!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 25, 2020, 03:39:31 PM
Yes, there are issues with PP and Teams. Zoom better for that.

Not allowed to use Zoom.

In fact, the uni-supplied laptops (which I am NOT using because they are absolute wank and filled with monitoring software) will not allow you to download Zoom.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on September 25, 2020, 03:40:58 PM
Sorry probably being a MEGA thick cunt here but what's to stop you getting a teaching job at a different university, out of interest?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 25, 2020, 03:47:55 PM
Sorry probably being a MEGA thick cunt here but what's to stop you getting a teaching job at a different university, out of interest?

Don't worry, it's not a silly question :)

No job openings anywhere. There haven't been, for ages. And I've been stuck in a programme leader role for so long (two cycles, so 6 years), my research/grant profile isn't as high as it should be -- I have a good track record, but universities are looking for someone with a lot of external money, publications, all that good stuff. I was just getting back into that last year when all this happened.

As awful as things are, I'm really lucky to have a position at all (something our management likes to remind us about).

I was regularly applying for jobs as they came open in my area of teaching, and not even making the short list. I had one app. out last winter for a uni looking to develop a Classical history programme, and thought I might have a chance there, but like everyone else, they buttoned up with all the economic problems covid is causing. Places aren't hiring now from what I can see -- they're all about the redundancies. :(
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 25, 2020, 03:49:02 PM
Toyed with retraining to teach Latin at a school -- I don't have a teaching certification, and I don't know if you can teach at any schools in the UK without one (you can teach in private and independent schools in the US without a state certification, for example.)

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 25, 2020, 04:30:34 PM
Don't worry, it's not a silly question :)

No job openings anywhere. There haven't been, for ages. And I've been stuck in a programme leader role for so long (two cycles, so 6 years), my research/grant profile isn't as high as it should be -- I have a good track record, but universities are looking for someone with a lot of external money, publications, all that good stuff. I was just getting back into that last year when all this happened.

You shouldn't be Programme Leader for longer than 3 academic years maximum. The good news is that the duty of care being shown to you is so unprofessional and negligent that if they EVER tried to get you for some infraction they wouldn't have a leg so stand on, and indeed your Line Managers would be the ones liable for your actions.

Unless you fuck a student. Please don't fuck a student.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 25, 2020, 04:53:55 PM
Not allowed to use Zoom.

In fact, the uni-supplied laptops (which I am NOT using because they are absolute wank and filled with monitoring software) will not allow you to download Zoom.

Are you in Soviet Russia?

I'm due to get a government laptop soon - probably packed to the gills with monitoring software, so even when I'm using this laptop for CaB it will know.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 25, 2020, 04:57:04 PM
Don't worry, it's not a silly question :)

No job openings anywhere. There haven't been, for ages. And I've been stuck in a programme leader role for so long (two cycles, so 6 years), my research/grant profile isn't as high as it should be -- I have a good track record, but universities are looking for someone with a lot of external money, publications, all that good stuff. I was just getting back into that last year when all this happened.

As awful as things are, I'm really lucky to have a position at all (something our management likes to remind us about).

I was regularly applying for jobs as they came open in my area of teaching, and not even making the short list. I had one app. out last winter for a uni looking to develop a Classical history programme, and thought I might have a chance there, but like everyone else, they buttoned up with all the economic problems covid is causing. Places aren't hiring now from what I can see -- they're all about the redundancies. :(

Although not good, its good to know that my failures at getting a lectureship is not an outlier and even the best like yourself struggle. There is a spot on group leader position in Switzerland opened up (Federal Institute), but that is probably as much pressure as this government gig and I just need some downtime. Also positions in Colorado and Berkeley that are promising, but...fear of flying (imagine fucking having to fly in and out of Denver regularly!!).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 25, 2020, 05:07:39 PM
Are you in Soviet Russia?

Laptops running any Windows OS other than 10 are actually blocked from connecting to the Eduroam wifi at Embra. I think there may be a similar deal with old versions of MacOS.

We're also told not to use Dropbox but everyone does.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 25, 2020, 05:45:29 PM
Laptops running any Windows OS other than 10 are actually blocked from connecting to the Eduroam wifi at Embra. I think there may be a similar deal with old versions of MacOS.

We're also told not to use Dropbox but everyone does.

suppose I was lucky as I had a Fellowship purchased MacBook Pro that no-one has asked about (I purchased in Canada and the EU and University haven't asked for it back). In fact the University never bothered me over the 10 years I was there. Never took any annual leave, did a couple of PDRs, *shrugs*...probably why I'm drowning now in Big Gov with all the protocols and attention and time sheets.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 25, 2020, 05:47:04 PM
Looks like Panopto isn't working with any of our online teaching software so no way to capture sessions.

Oh noes.....
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 25, 2020, 05:47:34 PM
I once got told off for not signing the out of hours book when going back to my office to get something I forgot after the School christmas party. Oh, and also for "being seen" taking a coffee from one of the meeting room coffee machines (free at the time) - "this was for a visitor" (my wife) so I had the last laugh.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 25, 2020, 06:06:59 PM
You shouldn't be Programme Leader for longer than 3 academic years maximum. The good news is that the duty of care being shown to you is so unprofessional and negligent that if they EVER tried to get you for some infraction they wouldn't have a leg so stand on, and indeed your Line Managers would be the ones liable for your actions.

Unless you fuck a student. Please don't fuck a student.

Heh, don't worry -- I was the undergrad involved with the prof(s), not the other way around.

Mine is a small programme, so I ended up PL for a little over 6 years. I had no teaching relief during that time. Now the role is divided amongst 3 people because 'It's such a difficult role for one person to balance with teaching and research'. To be fair, it's not just my programme; a number of the humanities programmes are dividing the chores amongst several people, as the demands on PLs have become increasingly mental over the past few years.

I begged to be replaced, because I didn't want to be in charge of a second revalidation event. And because I was falling between the cracks when it came to grants, research, &c. I'm hopelessly behind where I should/wanted to be at this point, and I no longer qualify for some of the bigger grants, like the BA mid-career scholarship (too old/too far past my PhD year).

Interesting article in the Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/sep/25/uk-universities-bullying-junior-staff-into-face-to-face-teaching

or did I already post this?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 25, 2020, 06:37:52 PM
I once got told off for not signing the out of hours book when going back to my office to get something I forgot after the School christmas party. Oh, and also for "being seen" taking a coffee from one of the meeting room coffee machines (free at the time) - "this was for a visitor" (my wife) so I had the last laugh.

My department was using a sign-in system where you had to scan a QR code and then input your details. I and a load of other peeps got a telling off for apparently not submitting the form, before it emerged the crap wifi was to blame that day.

Now we have to use some kind of app to sign in. The first time I tried it didn't work and I thought "Fuck this, I'll just take a bollocking via email". I waited for my e-bollocking but it never arrived. I haven't bothered signing in since.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 25, 2020, 06:58:47 PM
Heh, don't worry -- I was the undergrad involved with the prof(s), not the other way around.

Mine is a small programme, so I ended up PL for a little over 6 years. I had no teaching relief during that time. Now the role is divided amongst 3 people because 'It's such a difficult role for one person to balance with teaching and research'. To be fair, it's not just my programme; a number of the humanities programmes are dividing the chores amongst several people, as the demands on PLs have become increasingly mental over the past few years.

I begged to be replaced, because I didn't want to be in charge of a second revalidation event. And because I was falling between the cracks when it came to grants, research, &c. I'm hopelessly behind where I should/wanted to be at this point, and I no longer qualify for some of the bigger grants, like the BA mid-career scholarship (too old/too far past my PhD year).

Interesting article in the Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/sep/25/uk-universities-bullying-junior-staff-into-face-to-face-teaching

or did I already post this?

no, thanks. The Russell Group Unis should be named and shamed. No point Northumbria getting a stern telling off.

Watch out for Exeter in the news in the next months, btw.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Daniel on September 25, 2020, 07:41:29 PM
Toyed with retraining to teach Latin at a school -- I don't have a teaching certification, and I don't know if you can teach at any schools in the UK without one (you can teach in private and independent schools in the US without a state certification, for example.)

You can here too although I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as any less stressful than your current job!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 25, 2020, 08:16:56 PM
You can here too although I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as any less stressful than your current job!

As I guessed...teaching is hardcore, and the teachers I know are run off their feet with endless paperwork and league table bullshit.

This has been a shit week, and I'm guessing that's the score with a lot of teaching staff from everything I was hearing from colleagues today. Not a single one of my classes went to plan -- it wasn't my lessons or the content, but because of the enormous faff that is blended learning. The students know it's shit, too, and I hate looking like an incompetent fool in front of them (I can do that on my own without adding the useless tech we have to work with).

The rare flashes of actual teaching and engagement I had this week only make me feel more down, as I can see so much potential for good discussion and stuff being torpedoed. It was almost as if teaching accidently got done this week by mistake. Bleah.

Now to work most of the weekend to figure out how I'm going to make the 'real' seminars work (as opposed to the induction ones) next week.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 25, 2020, 09:02:10 PM
Just riff it


"did you know Caesar invented the Waldorf salad? Nero created the coffee chain Costa? Commodus invented the bidet" that last one is probably correct.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 25, 2020, 11:10:17 PM
This just drfted into my feed, a good precis from a student pov

https://twitter.com/nicmharcuis/status/1309599281280679941

looks like students in glasgow are planning a rent strike
https://twitter.com/UofGRentStrike

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: confettiinmyhair on September 26, 2020, 07:50:07 AM
I do worry about the mental health of our Uni students, particularly first years, who tend to struggle at the best of times, in the first term.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on September 26, 2020, 08:14:15 AM
This just drfted into my feed, a good precis from a student pov

https://twitter.com/nicmharcuis/status/1309599281280679941

looks like students in glasgow are planning a rent strike
https://twitter.com/UofGRentStrike



It's basically a con, isn't it? My institution has been especially brazen about this, changing its rent policy so students had to pay for the full term up front. Perhaps the recent face-offs we've had with more senior people in the university have made me paranoid, but it did occur to me that this was to stop rent strikes from happening.

I do sympathise with the students. They were totally misled by the university, who couldn't have known we were going to be shut down by the government, but who very well knew they were making promises they couldn't keep and were forcing students and staff alike into a dangerous situation for purely economic gain.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 26, 2020, 09:16:39 AM
Yes, misled, but everyone saw this coming months ago. I don't know how the Unis got away with it.

The recent news story about students possibly being locked down in halls over Xmas and new year seems to have been a wake-up call.

If my Uni find out that I have been advising students to defer for a year I'd probably be fired, but that is clearly the most sane option right now.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 26, 2020, 09:54:59 AM
It's time to rise up for those of you remaining in HE. There has been no better time to reverse decades of corporate encroachment on the education of our youth and the land grab by nefarious organisations masquerading as altruistic figure heads of grand institutions. It sickens me to see this. I've felt it, but have largely been hermetically sealed by not being involved in the machinations. Rent strikes are only the start. Industrial action across the board.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on September 26, 2020, 10:44:46 AM
The neoliberalisation of universities has destroyed the bonds of solidarity that we need to make lasting change. As a part-time teaching assistant, I've seen myself and my colleagues get squeezed out of everything. Most of the permanent staff agree with us, but there are still those who like to slam the door in our faces from the relative sanctity of their positions. The SU has been taken over by rugby lads and Tory boys who hate us for taking our working conditions seriously and not wanting to teach face-to-face, which they've agitated for against all of the facts. The main trade union here seems much weaker than its British counterpart and isn't too interested in us.

The postgraduate union is supposed to represent most of us (as we're mostly PhDs) but they don't care either. I had to fight for us to be represented within their structures at all, and any labour issues I have raised to the leader (who is a genuine moron) have been met by platitudes and a load of social media bluster about how she's honouring her 'manifesto' by getting the uni to give us a new Lavazza coffee machine to use when we reopen. I'm having to be a little vague here but I sent her a lengthy and detailed email about our concerns. She met the tinpot dictator who runs the place and only raised one of these issues, ignoring the bigger ones altogether. When we were given a bit of clarity and a minor policy change that didn't improve our safety, she trumpeted it as some kind of victory.

Apologies for ranting. I'm very angry about things, and although I've had a lucky escape from being sent over the top, it's exposed what a rotten and corrupt place this university is. Solidarity to all of you who are being forced to work in unsafe conditions.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 26, 2020, 12:05:26 PM
You can always revolt and take it by 'force'.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 26, 2020, 12:46:39 PM
I dunno thow they'll do a rent strike easily though. I don't think I saw the money that went on my rent when I was in uni. I imagine many will be in a situation whether loaned or not, that's been taken out of their control by mum and dad to stop them pissing their money up the wall and not being able to pay it.

Still good on them.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on September 26, 2020, 04:27:38 PM
Yes, misled, but everyone saw this coming months ago. I don't know how the Unis got away with it.

The recent news story about students possibly being locked down in halls over Xmas and new year seems to have been a wake-up call.

If my Uni find out that I have been advising students to defer for a year I'd probably be fired, but that is clearly the most sane option right now.

yeah, while not advising it directly, if students have indicated that they want to defer, I have made it as easy as possible.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on September 26, 2020, 04:32:10 PM
We've gone the other way for our course - you will be face to face for labs, everything else will be online except for some maths tutorials and they will be supported online. It has gone down quite well, students seem to appreciate they will be in one day per week for a solid, socially distanced, session and the rest is online.

I guess we're lucky, in one way, in that many of our students are local and commute in.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 26, 2020, 05:30:11 PM
I do feel sorry for students currently locked down in halls but also....

WHAT THE FUCK DID THEY EXPECT?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 26, 2020, 05:41:29 PM
I do feel sorry for students currently locked down in halls but also....

WHAT THE FUCK DID THEY EXPECT?

Back in the 90s, a majority of the students in my halls would spend most of their days holed up in curtained and squalid rooms anyway.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 26, 2020, 05:47:25 PM
Cases now confirmed at Bollock Halls in Embra but the buildings aren't in lockdown just yet. Fucking hell.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 26, 2020, 05:50:13 PM
I asked my mate who works at the Aberdeen Uni if they were kicking off there but he says not that he knows of, although some of them got busted and fined for parties they weren't supposed to be having.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Dex Sawash on September 26, 2020, 07:55:16 PM
(imagine fucking having to fly in and out of Denver regularly!!).

Never had a hairy situation at Denver, mountains are 30+miles away so there is no ridge lift turbulence.
Can be breezy so may have a crosswind landing occasionally. Pretty much like Chicago, dead flat. ( there is a brown, low rolling terrain so the terminal is sometimes out of view from the taxiways which is kind of surreal)

I guess it is a long flight from everywhere else though.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 26, 2020, 08:08:08 PM
Cases now confirmed at Bollock Halls in Embra but the buildings aren't in lockdown just yet. Fucking hell.

Individual flats, is my understanding. Does a whole tenement get shut down when one non-student starts coughing in it? It’s already bad enough that different rules have been imposed on students than the rest of society. It wouldn’t surprise me if they all head back home in a few days. That’s assuming Sturgeon lets them.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 26, 2020, 09:07:53 PM
Individual flats, is my understanding. Does a whole tenement get shut down when one non-student starts coughing in it? It’s already bad enough that different rules have been imposed on students than the rest of society. It wouldn’t surprise me if they all head back home in a few days. That’s assuming Sturgeon lets them.

I got an email specifically mentioning Bollock Halls, but yes, I agree that it's very unfair to stigmatise students like this, as much as they have been annoying me lately. When I came to Embra I was a 30-year-old mature student, single, living in a private rented flat on my own and not going to any of the usual freshers' events because I was too old and knackered for that sort of thing. Would I have been forced to stay at home? It does seem very unfair.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 26, 2020, 09:16:02 PM
I got an email specifically mentioning Bollock Halls, but yes, I agree that it's very unfair to stigmatise students like this, as much as they have been annoying me lately. When I came to Embra I was a 30-year-old mature student, single, living in a private rented flat on my own and not going to any of the usual freshers' events because I was too old and knackered for that sort of thing. Would I have been forced to stay at home? It does seem very unfair.

I think it's basically unenforceable innit, mature students off campus are no bigger risk than 'young professionals'. Undergrads who aren't freshers and not in halls are  unenforceable and complete dangers though.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 26, 2020, 09:54:03 PM
Never had a hairy situation at Denver, mountains are 30+miles away so there is no ridge lift turbulence.
Can be breezy so may have a crosswind landing occasionally. Pretty much like Chicago, dead flat. ( there is a brown, low rolling terrain so the terminal is sometimes out of view from the taxiways which is kind of surreal)

I guess it is a long flight from everywhere else though.

I think its the turbulence coming in or out of the airport, plus the frequent storms.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on September 26, 2020, 10:43:20 PM
This has got to be the beginning of the end for f2f teaching this term at least. I’m not aware of any announced cases at my uni so far but statistically there has to be some.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 26, 2020, 11:06:12 PM
(https://www.dogsonacid.com/attachments/upload_2020-9-26_23-3-37-png.188235/)

https://twitter.com/Gabriel_Pogrund/status/1309907164560060416 (https://twitter.com/Gabriel_Pogrund/status/1309907164560060416)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on September 26, 2020, 11:07:30 PM
Exercise and food lul
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 27, 2020, 08:50:02 AM
I can’t see in-person still happening at the end of October. Which actually is pretty easy to do logistically, in fact easier than a mixture of online and face-to-face modes.

Over the years I’ve come to appreciate that, en bloc, students can be annoying (and most of that is just immaturity). Individually, they’re generally decent people. Most of the ones I know personally are just trying to do the right thing. The news article about police at our halls revealed that the parties in question were gatherings of around half a dozen people. But of course we’re made to think of classic student parties with 30 people crammed into the toilet. I’m sure there will be some of those going on, but let’s give people some credit.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 27, 2020, 08:57:51 AM
I can’t see in-person still happening at the end of October. Which actually is pretty easy to do logistically, in fact easier than a mixture of online and face-to-face modes.

Over the years I’ve come to appreciate that, en bloc, students can be annoying (and most of that is just immaturity). Individually, they’re generally decent people. Most of the ones I know personally are just trying to do the right thing. The news article about police at our halls revealed that the parties in question were gatherings of around half a dozen people. But of course we’re made to think of classic student parties with 30 people crammed into the toilet. I’m sure there will be some of those going on, but let’s give people some credit.

well said. fuck the adults in the room.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: SpiderChrist on September 27, 2020, 09:05:02 AM
I hope they don't die or cause the death of anyone else. Truly.

Cunt
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 27, 2020, 12:24:15 PM
I appreciate your brevity.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: SpiderChrist on September 28, 2020, 09:25:15 AM
I appreciate your brevity.

What, you think I wanted my offspring to go, or indeed had any control or agency over the actions of a 19 year old? You think I'm happy about it? Shitty comments like yours serve only to exacerbate the anxiety I'm feeling over this situation, and make you look like a cunt.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 28, 2020, 10:31:49 AM
I imagine you are very stressed, like we all are. I look like a cunt all the time on this forum - you might be surprised to learn that you do as well. I don't want a ruck about this, but I'm responding to your posts.

I asked:
Quote
Would you send your kid to Uni? I fucking wouldn't

You replied:
I fucking did.

The issue of "control" and "agency" was clarified in your brief reply.

I also can't contextualise my posts to account for your shame and nihilism, even though I completely understand, sympathise and feel terribly for you:

This country really is completely fucked, isn't it? No hope anymore. Just keep drinking and taking drugs until it all inevitably collapses. Feel utterly ashamed that I brought a child into this world. She started Uni on Saturday and has nothing to look forward to.

If you are open to it, let me be less cunty and I will rephrase my original post - I hope your daughter is able to stay safe and does not endanger the safety of others.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: SpiderChrist on September 28, 2020, 10:50:38 AM
I imagine you are very stressed, like we all are. I look like a cunt all the time on this forum - you might be surprised to learn that you do as well.

Not particularly surprised, but thank you for your honesty. I shall attempt to rein it in


I don't want a ruck about this, but I'm responding to your posts.

The issue of "control" and "agency" was clarified in your brief reply.


Nor I. My post was poorly worded, as I imagine most of them are. Apologies.



I also can't contextualise my posts to account for your shame and nihilism, even though I completely understand, sympathise and feel terribly for you

I find myself in the middle of a number of personal dramas at the moment, which might be where the nihilism comes from. I don't want to be a nihilist. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.

If you are open to it, let me be less cunty and I will rephrase my original post - I hope your daughter is able to stay safe and does not endanger the safety of others.

Thank you. And apologies again.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 28, 2020, 10:59:23 AM
It's fine, and I'm sorry too because, you were right, it was a cunt move.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blinder Data on September 28, 2020, 11:35:42 AM
I suppose if I was due to go to uni this year I would defer and take a gap year, but what kind of gap year would it be? A tense and listless lockdown at home with the parents? Apply for short-term retail/low-skill jobs when thousands of them are being binned? Go backpacking to somewhere that might be worse off than the UK and risk a lockdown far away from home?

I can understand why students took the risk of studying this year instead of extending for another 12 months what must have felt like the purgatory of this summer. In this situation, there are no good choices.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 28, 2020, 04:33:45 PM
(https://www.dogsonacid.com/attachments/upload_2020-9-28_16-31-44-png.188274/)

They'll be making pruno next.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 28, 2020, 05:20:54 PM
Aberdeen Uni announcing breaching the guidelines could lead to a £250 fine, plus expulsion, and that they’re using landlords for enforcement

(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Ei8aLYkWsAAy6Un?format=jpg&name=small)

The catered blocks in Aberdeen which I stayed in were horrible, like individual cells. I believe they're no longer catered and they rammed some fridges and an extra Baby Belling stove in the communal (2 per floor) kitchens.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 28, 2020, 05:26:07 PM
Being locked down in Aberdeen in winter probably won't be much fun. Poor sods.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 28, 2020, 05:27:04 PM
Being locked down in Aberdeen in winter probably won't be much fun. Poor sods.

I had my own mini lockdown in those catered halls when I got the mumps. Pales in comparison obviously, but it was still dreadful, and it obviously had an end in sight.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 28, 2020, 08:41:51 PM

The catered blocks in Aberdeen which I stayed in were horrible, like individual cells. I believe they're no longer catered and they rammed some fridges and an extra Baby Belling stove in the communal (2 per floor) kitchens.

Was that the one that is like The Maze prison?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 28, 2020, 08:46:23 PM
Was that the one that is like The Maze prison?

Yes.

(https://live.staticflickr.com/2828/11160663675_0885cd5b1d_b.jpg)


(https://www.abdn.ac.uk/accommodation/gallery/images/album7/DSC_4680.jpg)

This is apparently a recent picture of the same block I stayed in, the desk arrangement is new, so are the carpets. I'm guessing the conduit means they've also put network access in now. This wasn't there at all at the start of term, about half way through they stuck a wifi access point in the tv room.

When I stayed they were all bolted into the walls and some of them had things like 'Dave Richicie 1983' scrawled on the inside, in 2005.

You could still smoke in them when i was there. I bet that's been disallowed now.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 28, 2020, 08:53:21 PM
I love the way that university accommodation managers think they can give a 60s hellhole the feel of an boutique hotel by pleating a towel (and, no doubt, the bog roll).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 28, 2020, 08:59:14 PM
I love the way that university accommodation managers think they can give a 60s hellhole the feel of an boutique hotel by pleating a towel (and, no doubt, the bog roll).

What I find amazing is how much more they've started offering since the councils have been selling off land for private developers. Unite buildings just used to be very slightly brighter versions of the same thing, en-suites and thinner walls. Now they've got gyms and in-house coffee/snack bars, some have small 'cinemas' etc.

It's not good, 'cos it's just corporatisation of the same shitholes and they're all pokey and flout building standards other places have to adhere to, but still.

Unite actually were allowed to build some new flats in Hillhead after some of the blocks got subsidence and had to be knocked down, but I think they bungled it, or freshers were causing more damage so it wasn't cost effective and the University ended up taking ownership/management of them.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 28, 2020, 09:07:39 PM
Attila may wish to look away... but I’m actually almost enjoying this online teaching lark. I miss not having a proper board to write on - all this e-teaching stuff seems to assume all you want to do is pipe PowerPoint at people and occasionally scribble “ambiguity?” on it. No good for us hard science types so we’ve all had to come up with our own gaffer-taped solutions (instead of the uni offering a single tool that works). But other than that it’s nice sitting in my office speaking to the nations, watching questions come in over the chat and being more serendipitous than I would be in the lecture theatre.

Tutorials are hard work though.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 28, 2020, 09:40:29 PM
One of my favourite lecturers taught all his courses with self-made lectures that he'd written in html, and seemingly lectured in a random order so there was no telling what you'd missed if you'd skipped a class.

He also taught a course on propositional logic (I think) that were OHT slides from another lecturer and clearly hadn't bothered to even pre-read them as sometimes he'd put a slide on, look at it pensively for up to 30 seconds and go "I dunno what this is trying to express" or "I don't agree with this at all".

He was an actual genius though.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 28, 2020, 10:37:42 PM
(https://www.dogsonacid.com/attachments/upload_2020-9-28_22-27-58-png.188300/)

https://twitter.com/ucu/status/1310625541754683395

oof

(https://www.dogsonacid.com/attachments/upload_2020-9-28_22-41-56-png.188301/)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on September 28, 2020, 10:42:46 PM
That is fucking mental. I know the Fire Safety guys at my uni. They're ex-firemen and they would have been absolutely furious if they'd seen that and not just because it's totally illegal.

Apparently my uni had it's first coronavirus positive student today who's self-isolating at home. It's so nice to find we're not being left out!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 28, 2020, 10:45:48 PM
That is fucking mental. I know the Fire Safety guys at my uni. They're ex-firemen and they would have been absolutely furious if they'd seen that and not just because it's totally illegal.

Apparently my uni had it's first coronavirus positive student today who's self-isolating at home. It's so nice to find we're not being left out!

I saw some fuckwit moaning that one of the aberdeen halls that goes onto a street had a late evacuation and none of the students had masks. Yes, it's a fire alarm in the middle of the night in a really densely packed building, what the fuck did you expect?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 28, 2020, 10:46:52 PM
Got a very busy day tomorrow and I'm getting really fucked off with having to book every single room and lab bench and bit of equipment I'll be using via a website and three different apps, two of which are completely fucking borked. If our elf'n'safety officer tries to give me a ticking off again I may end up throwing something big and heavy and expensive through a window.

I'm effectively in charge of coordinating all of the lab's experiments at the moment while trying to look for a new job on the side. There's a good chance my contract will be extended but I need a Plan B in case that doesn't happen. Needless to say I'm not feeling terribly motivated right now.

It also doesn't help that I'm finding cycling in pretty stressful. It's giving me the quads of Chris Hoy while I still have the lungs of Darth Vader.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 28, 2020, 11:00:19 PM
Attila may wish to look away... but I’m actually almost enjoying this online teaching lark. I miss not having a proper board to write on - all this e-teaching stuff seems to assume all you want to do is pipe PowerPoint at people and occasionally scribble “ambiguity?” on it. No good for us hard science types so we’ve all had to come up with our own gaffer-taped solutions (instead of the uni offering a single tool that works). But other than that it’s nice sitting in my office speaking to the nations, watching questions come in over the chat and being more serendipitous than I would be in the lecture theatre.

Tutorials are hard work though.

Nah,  I'm glad it's going well for you, honestly! :)

It's the blended learning stuff that's doing my head in, and is exhausting to get everything prepped and done for the online portion, then spend ages commuting to teach for 45 minutes when so far Teams and/or media in the classroom has not worked.

Meanwhile, one of the people made redundant over the summer has left a huge gap in the curriculum -- and that person's modules are still on the books and filled with students. They're trying to hand it to someone in the dept who doesn't have any experience in the area of study under consideration (and it's a final year, not an intro, module). That person is stressing out at having to teach it, so now they're looking at me to do it. It's complementary to what I teach, but a completely different emphasis and not my area of expertise at all. I could muddle through if I have the person's lecture notes and PPTs, but it would mean I'm teaching on 7 modules next spring instead of just six.

Fuck knows.



Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 28, 2020, 11:00:30 PM
That is fucking mental. I know the Fire Safety guys at my uni. They're ex-firemen and they would have been absolutely furious if they'd seen that and not just because it's totally illegal.

Apparently my uni had it's first coronavirus positive student today who's self-isolating at home. It's so nice to find we're not being left out!

Those gates are a pile of shit anyway. When I lived in Aberdeen they threw up a private block over some land that used to be a drain centre that I used to walk past to work. They had one of those gates there into the main courtyard, it was obviously a cheap metal gate with a maglock on it, but no automatic closer, so the students often didn't bother to close it, it opened into the street (probably for evacuation reasons) and there were obvious signs from the owners asking them to close it for 'security', rather than sort it out.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 28, 2020, 11:14:01 PM
.
Meanwhile, one of the people made redundant over the summer has left a huge gap in the curriculum -- and that person's modules are still on the books and filled with students.

I'm covering for someone who has been made redundant, fun innit?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 29, 2020, 12:11:30 AM
Uni heads now conspiring with Landlords to identify rule breakers.

Now that's something being students together. Except for academics who are also landlord cunts.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 29, 2020, 12:19:02 AM
Ha. Can't see landlords being too prudent in shopping their tenants somehow.

TBF my best landlord was a jolly old ex-lecturer. Rented absolute shitholes at a fair price and was quite hand-off while he done it.

Might be a flash of stockholm syndrome.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 29, 2020, 07:37:58 AM
Yes.

(https://live.staticflickr.com/2828/11160663675_0885cd5b1d_b.jpg)


(https://www.abdn.ac.uk/accommodation/gallery/images/album7/DSC_4680.jpg)

This is apparently a recent picture of the same block I stayed in, the desk arrangement is new, so are the carpets. I'm guessing the conduit means they've also put network access in now. This wasn't there at all at the start of term, about half way through they stuck a wifi access point in the tv room.

When I stayed they were all bolted into the walls and some of them had things like 'Dave Richicie 1983' scrawled on the inside, in 2005.

You could still smoke in them when i was there. I bet that's been disallowed now.

Ha! First ever taxi i rode in dropped me outside there. I then woke up in my boxer shorts lost in the maze and miraculously found my way back to the room (after drunk sleepwalking)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 29, 2020, 10:46:22 AM
It's the blended learning stuff that's doing my head in, and is exhausting to get everything prepped and done for the online portion, then spend ages commuting to teach for 45 minutes when so far Teams and/or media in the classroom has not worked.

By "blended" do you mean trying to teach in-person and online at the same time. That's not blended, that's madness. We're not doing that (Director of Teaching decision).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 29, 2020, 10:54:06 AM
Ha! First ever taxi i rode in dropped me outside there. I then woke up in my boxer shorts lost in the maze and miraculously found my way back to the room (after drunk sleepwalking)

I once forgot to take the door off the snib and some bloke wandered in drunk and nearly clambered into bed with me in the middle of the night. Right room, wrong building.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on September 29, 2020, 11:00:03 AM
By "blended" do you mean trying to teach in-person and online at the same time. That's not blended, that's madness. We're not doing that (Director of Teaching decision).

we're supposed to do it for a maths module.

I've stated that I won't - it is madness- emailing the students that can't make it to contact me directly and I will double teach.

Odds are, they won't and word will get around that the tutorials are worthwhile.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 29, 2020, 11:11:52 AM
Can you not capture the first session, make it available (I think zoom can do this automatically and even caption it very badly in the process) then tell people who didn't watch it live they're welcome to contact you with further questions?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on September 29, 2020, 11:23:39 AM
Can you not capture the first session, make it available (I think zoom can do this automatically and even caption it very badly in the process) then tell people who didn't watch it live they're welcome to contact you with further questions?

Tutorial so based on what questions the small cohort have on a series of worksheets - but, yeah, the powerpoint and recording will be available.

I think it will either move completely online or completely in person.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: drummersaredeaf on September 29, 2020, 11:29:40 AM
Nah,  I'm glad it's going well for you, honestly! :)

It's the blended learning stuff that's doing my head in, and is exhausting to get everything prepped and done for the online portion, then spend ages commuting to teach for 45 minutes when so far Teams and/or media in the classroom has not worked.

Meanwhile, one of the people made redundant over the summer has left a huge gap in the curriculum -- and that person's modules are still on the books and filled with students. They're trying to hand it to someone in the dept who doesn't have any experience in the area of study under consideration (and it's a final year, not an intro, module). That person is stressing out at having to teach it, so now they're looking at me to do it. It's complementary to what I teach, but a completely different emphasis and not my area of expertise at all. I could muddle through if I have the person's lecture notes and PPTs, but it would mean I'm teaching on 7 modules next spring instead of just six.

Fuck knows.

This seems increasingly common doesn't it. I was asked to write a module for one of these privatised international study centres that they have. I could have easily done the management module and about 40% of an international business module (both a bit outside my expertise, but it's first year and I've taught both before anyway). Instead they wanted me to write a quant methods module or the full international business one, rather than the one that most closely aligns with my expertise.

Meanwhile, I've just got off the phone with a mate who came to academia via a distance learning diploma and MA having served as a union rep for 25 years. He's now teaching HRM on a hastily assembled MBA. He said there were a fair few car crash moments with them asking him questions he simply doesn't know the answers to. I have another mate in a similar position elsewhere who was having to learn psychology in the morning in order to teach it in the afternoon.

Trapped in your flat (an easy mistake for the council to make but the grills on the window are an eyesore), paying fees and rent out of your arse, and being taught by people who aren't experts in whatever topic they're teaching - but at least they're paid fuck all. Absolutely run into the ground.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 29, 2020, 11:52:15 AM
Just made another complaint about another health and safety person abusing the Covid rules to lord it over everyone else in the building.

AWWWW NAW AM NO A GRASS
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on September 29, 2020, 12:41:11 PM
1st F2F done. Really enjoyed being back in the lab teaching again. Downside is I'll be dead within a fortnight.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 29, 2020, 01:46:17 PM
By "blended" do you mean trying to teach in-person and online at the same time. That's not blended, that's madness. We're not doing that (Director of Teaching decision).

Yep -- All of my 'face to face' teaching involves people both in the room, and dialling in. The uni here calls this 'blended learning.'

So, for example, I have a year 3 module of about 8 students, so every week, 9  of them are to attend and 9 are to dial in -- and they alternate weeks who attends and who doesn't.

I have a year 2 module with 25 students on it, and that's considered too large to d that rota, so there are two back to back seminars where half the class is in one, half in the other. They come every week, but I still have to have a Teams session at the same time for those who are isolating.

I have two other modules where everyone is supposed to come every week BUT I have to run a teams session at the same time for those who dial in.

So I'm monitoring a group in the room, on Teams, plus the chatroom (since the ones on teams often don't want to speak), and the raise hands function -- I can't see the chat or raise hands when I share my screen, so in each classroom, I have a laptop and the desktop going at the same time, so that I can monitor myself along with the students in the room, and the students diallling in.

Four sessions of this on Monday, two on Thursday, and then another four on Fridays.

Everything is recorded, and then has to be loaded onto their weekly module webpages -- even when all of the students are actually in attendence.

Half the time the connectivity in the classrooms is poor, Teams lags or sticks, or there's some other tech issue. By the time I got back to the house Friday I had a banger of a headache that I couldn't throw off til late Saturday, and then all day Sunday was putting together the online interactive stuff (discussion groups, seminar activities, padlet-type stuff) for this week.

Tues-Wed are Teams meetings, synchronous big seminars (on the stuff that I team teach), Teams tutorials, training workshops (because we are still being introduced to new initiatives as the senior management wunderkind comes up with new shit for us to do) and meetings. At the moment, I've got a rare hour today that I'm not in a live seminar or tedious training workshop (this one coming up is a two hour training session on how I'm personally responsible for rentention of students on my programme, and how I'm meant to do this, and how I'll be monitored for my success failure when it comes to next year's redundancies.

Whee.

They're also the days where I monitor all of the activities that are running for the modules for the week -- no point in setting them tasks on a discussion page if I don't read it, make comments on it, ask further questions -- otherwise, I can see them thinking, What's the point,she's not looking at it.

I have six modules this semester, so that's a heck of a lot of activities, chats, discussions, etc. It really demonstrates how much is actually accomplished in a two hour face to face session in the olde worlde.

I'm trying to be fairly structured with the freshmen, too, since they're coming off a summer with no direction and a lot of uncertainty on top of the usual freshment shellshock when it comes to university classes.

On the bright side, the students on my modules anyway really do engage, so the time put into the activities and stuff so far is paying off. The seminar today was wrangling about 80 students online through discussion and a rapidly moving chatroom -- it's exhausting, but it was good to see that they were into it, and prepared (more or less) for the discussion thanks to the activities leading up to it.

Students have also sent really supportive emails to me and a couple of colleagues, asking how we are, since the university seems to be 100% focused on their well-being, and fuck the staff. It's been much appreciated.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Dog Botherer on September 29, 2020, 02:40:40 PM
how do i convince my sister, currently safely in my parents house in ireland, not to go back to her english plague hive?

her and my parents have been very sensible with the Covid so far but i’m detecting a hint of the “ah sure it’ll be grand” creeping in.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 29, 2020, 02:54:45 PM
She could come to my uni , which has just sent around again a notice that there is NO covid on campus and NO covid in the city/surrounding area.

Meanwhile, we have students and now staff having to isolate due to exposure to family/friends/whatever who have tested positive.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 29, 2020, 03:06:29 PM
She could come to my uni , which has just sent around again a notice that there is NO covid on campus and NO covid in the city/surrounding area.

Meanwhile, we have students and now staff having to isolate due to exposure to family/friends/whatever who have tested positive.

This is proper "there is no HIV positive GDR blood because there are no drug users or homosexuals in the GDR" type bullshit.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 29, 2020, 03:35:16 PM
I was thinking more 'There is no cannibalism in the British Navy, and when I say none, I mean some'
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 29, 2020, 06:20:31 PM
Yep -- All of my 'face to face' teaching involves people both in the room, and dialling in. The uni here calls this 'blended learning.'

Educational jargon is really annoying; worse when it gets co-opted as a marketing term. (The Scottish Govt used 'blended learning' to mean that 'parents doing the teaching'). My understanding is that it is supposed to mean a mixture of online and tutored stuff. If your online offering is textbook, then it's what we used to call 'learning'.

Here we concluded fairly early on that simultaneous in-person and online is a sofa-bed of a classroom: crap sofa, crap bed. So at least we got that out of the way. Our model is to offer the maximum amount of in-person that can be accommodated with 2m distancing, which for us turns out to be an hour a week per course. The rest is fully online. This has avoided going late into the evening or the weekend, as was mooted at one point - my latest class finishes at 6pm (and we used to have such classes before Covid; not that I was happy about that, but the schedule is halfway reasonable). We've ended up with about the same amount of interaction with the students that we previously had; and with the lectures being more like a tutorial with 200 students due to the way the live chat works, it's arguably more.

Having so much stuff flying around while you are teaching does give a bit of an adrenaline rush, and I am getting a kick out of that. Also the students seem to be enjoying it. They even claim to like the stuff I prerecorded over the summer, which I'm quite pleased about because that was all pretty much done in one take with minimal editing.

Quote
Students have also sent really supportive emails to me and a couple of colleagues, asking how we are, since the university seems to be 100% focused on their well-being, and fuck the staff. It's been much appreciated.

The students generally have been great, I must say.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 29, 2020, 06:21:57 PM
(It's not all roses; some aspects of the preparation have been a royal PITA. Captioning in particular. But those rants have been saved for my weekly meetings with the boss...)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Puce Moment on September 29, 2020, 06:24:32 PM
Loving not leaving the house to do my job.

Tech side is iffy, but not insurmountable. I might start liking my job at this rate, especially if the new normal is teaching in my PJs.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on September 29, 2020, 06:26:25 PM
(It's not all roses; some aspects of the preparation have been a royal PITA. Captioning in particular. But those rants have been saved for my weekly meetings with the boss...)

do you have to type the captions yourself?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 29, 2020, 08:20:37 PM
do you have to type the captions yourself?

In principle no. But if the ML algorithms have never encountered speech patterns like yours before, yes. The irony is that in most of my teaching I am saying what I am writing down at the time.

I made some noises on the EDI impacts on staff with non-standard accents, and things have gone a bit quieter since then.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on September 29, 2020, 08:31:31 PM
I was thinking more 'There is no cannibalism in the British Navy, and when I say none, I mean some'

now pass me that leg.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Zetetic on September 29, 2020, 08:45:45 PM
The horrible fact lurking grotesquely in the background of this enormous amount of seriously-undertaken extra work is that 99% of lectures would be best delivered in text and diagrams amounting to about four sides of A4.

Edit: Which probably comes across as meaner than I meant it. I think it's a shame that it's a distraction from much more valuable things like making tutorials work properly.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on September 29, 2020, 09:16:24 PM
In principle no. But if the ML algorithms have never encountered speech patterns like yours before, yes.

Obligatory link:

https://youtu.be/J3lYLphzAnw
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on September 29, 2020, 09:27:37 PM
In principle no. But if the ML algorithms have never encountered speech patterns like yours before, yes. The irony is that in most of my teaching I am saying what I am writing down at the time.

I made some noises on the EDI impacts on staff with non-standard accents, and things have gone a bit quieter since then.

A guy at work with a bit of a Westcountry accent did a presentation about setting up purchases within work here. Lots of abbreviations and it didn't take long for the captions to make fuck all sense.

Incidentally I'd have thought a lot of academic subjects would have their own terminology that whilst common within the subject use words that are very unlikely to crop up in speech elsewhere. The way subtitlers in television handle this (subtitling often utilises speech recognition, but relies on subtitlers who've had the system trained to their voices "re-speaking" what's being said on tv) using special corpus's with different waitings. I.E. they'll use a different specialist corpus with different weightings for a Weather bulletin.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Captain Z on September 29, 2020, 11:59:21 PM
By "blended" do you mean trying to teach in-person and online at the same time. That's not blended, that's madness.

(https://thumbs.gfycat.com/ValuableFamousAfricanwilddog-size_restricted.gif)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 30, 2020, 12:12:14 PM
The horrible fact lurking grotesquely in the background of this enormous amount of seriously-undertaken extra work is that 99% of lectures would be best delivered in text and diagrams amounting to about four sides of A4.

No.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on October 01, 2020, 03:51:37 PM
Ewing Hall at Bollock Halls now under LOCKDOWN
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on October 01, 2020, 05:58:28 PM
That was yesterday! Do keep up.

At the rate things are going I think all my first year tutorials will be online by the end of next week.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on October 01, 2020, 06:46:25 PM
A lot of prevaricating. A virus' dream.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on October 04, 2020, 10:07:12 PM
Looks like Newcastle students are cutting out the middle virus and going straight to murder. Fucking hell.

The university really in meltdown.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Dex Sawash on October 05, 2020, 02:57:01 PM



Quote
Duke University’s comprehensive COVID-19 testing program received results from 14,554 tests administered to students, faculty and staff from September 26 – October 2, 2020. In total, there were 20 positive results – ten undergraduate students, five graduate/professional students and five faculty/staff. The positivity rate for this period was 0.137%.   

https://today.duke.edu/2020/10/covid-19-test-update-sept-26-oct-2?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Testing%20update&utm_campaign=dukedailyOct5_20
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on October 06, 2020, 02:36:58 PM
Several confirmed, unrelated cases of covid on campus now. Management just sent around an email saying that they're working closely with these people to sort out any track and trace but in the meantime, everyone is to continue as normal, and to keep teaching on campus, &c.

Most of the email is, in fact, emphasising over and over again that campus will continue to operate as it has been, and no one is to shift to online teaching unless we're contacted as being someone who's come into contact with one of these confirmed cases.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on October 06, 2020, 05:14:55 PM
Our uni has a webpage updating with the number of confirmed cases that week. We're only at Tuesday and it's in double figures, but still, we're a lot better than most.

The VC in a staff email has given one of the reasons for staying open for F2F teaching as financial meltdown (my words not his) if we need to start refunding, which is honest but a little dispiriting.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on October 06, 2020, 05:58:37 PM
If my university has to start refunding housing fees, we're finished. They've borrowed way too much against future student fees to survive.

I'm working like mad to get all of my lessons for each week sorted, engaging, all that jazz, while always in the back of my head is the fear of copping a dose of covid, on the one hand, and all of this being for nought on the other if I get sacked anyway.

Sigh.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on October 06, 2020, 06:57:09 PM
The beige prevails. Can't see any Uni going under right now. But by fuck have there been some plagues recently.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Camp Tramp on October 07, 2020, 09:27:49 AM
Just had my first 3 lectures these last two days.

There has been some technical difficulties with both Panopto and Teams. I keep seeing notifications that Panopto isn't working at all. Also the lecturer I had yesterday informed us that he wasn't recording the lecture and that the UCU has locked horns with the administration because they are insisting that all sessions be recorded.

I thought the lectures went fine though, the most irritating thing were the other students who kept talking shit in the text channel on Teams. In the end it outweighed the useful info being shared so I minimised it.

All of the lecturers have also said that they prefer webcam feeds from the students rather than avatars.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on October 07, 2020, 09:51:43 AM
Just had my first 3 lectures these last two days.

There has been some technical difficulties with both Panopto and Teams. I keep seeing notifications that Panopto isn't working at all. Also the lecturer I had yesterday informed us that he wasn't recording the lecture and that the UCU has locked horns with the administration because they are insisting that all sessions be recorded.

I thought the lectures went fine though, the most irritating thing were the other students who kept talking shit in the text channel on Teams. In the end it outweighed the useful info being shared so I minimised it.

All of the lecturers have also said that they prefer webcam feeds from the students rather than avatars.

How is this even legal? We've been told not to record because of the potential legal issues, especially as the university couldn't be bothered to put together the consent forms despite promising us they were working on it all summer.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on October 07, 2020, 10:16:10 AM
My university insists that all sessions be recorded, including ones where all of the students are present (no absences, no one dialling in). This includes recording individual seminars on modules which has been causing all sorts of issues (ie, a module divided into 2 or more seminars -- so that all of the students can see all of the seminar recordings and not just their own).

Aside from the legal issues, it's generally irritating, as the students are hesitant to speak when they know they're being recorded.

None of the students so far who dial into Teams turn on their webcams -- I am faced with a wall of avatars when I teach face to face. Last week I had four students in the classroom, and 15 avatars on the screen. It's rare for anyone who's dialled in actually to participate, whether through the raise hand function or through chat. For all I know, they dial in and then go off and do something else for an hour -- colleagues do that during meetings/training sessions, so no reason to think that students don't, either.

I've got to record lectures now, even when I do them face to face and the whole group is there, something I really don't like, but I suppose it's for when the university finally replaces us with robots.

Bleaurgh. I envy anyone who's getting on all right with their semester -- all face to face, or all online, I think would be ok, but this 'blended learning' shit is mental.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on October 07, 2020, 11:06:54 AM
My university insists that all sessions be recorded, including ones where all of the students are present (no absences, no one dialling in). This includes recording individual seminars on modules which has been causing all sorts of issues (ie, a module divided into 2 or more seminars -- so that all of the students can see all of the seminar recordings and not just their own).

Aside from the legal issues, it's generally irritating, as the students are hesitant to speak when they know they're being recorded.

None of the students so far who dial into Teams turn on their webcams -- I am faced with a wall of avatars when I teach face to face. Last week I had four students in the classroom, and 15 avatars on the screen. It's rare for anyone who's dialled in actually to participate, whether through the raise hand function or through chat. For all I know, they dial in and then go off and do something else for an hour -- colleagues do that during meetings/training sessions, so no reason to think that students don't, either.

I've got to record lectures now, even when I do them face to face and the whole group is there, something I really don't like, but I suppose it's for when the university finally replaces us with robots.

Bleaurgh. I envy anyone who's getting on all right with their semester -- all face to face, or all online, I think would be ok, but this 'blended learning' shit is mental.

Exactly, and lots of staff raised that point when it looked like we were going to have to record tutorials. It would just make people self-conscious in a way that wouldn't happen with the usual ephemerality of tutorials.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on October 07, 2020, 11:14:34 AM
My university insists that all sessions be recorded, including ones where all of the students are present (no absences, no one dialling in). This includes recording individual seminars on modules which has been causing all sorts of issues (ie, a module divided into 2 or more seminars -- so that all of the students can see all of the seminar recordings and not just their own).

Aside from the legal issues, it's generally irritating, as the students are hesitant to speak when they know they're being recorded.

None of the students so far who dial into Teams turn on their webcams -- I am faced with a wall of avatars when I teach face to face. Last week I had four students in the classroom, and 15 avatars on the screen. It's rare for anyone who's dialled in actually to participate, whether through the raise hand function or through chat. For all I know, they dial in and then go off and do something else for an hour -- colleagues do that during meetings/training sessions, so no reason to think that students don't, either.

I've got to record lectures now, even when I do them face to face and the whole group is there, something I really don't like, but I suppose it's for when the university finally replaces us with robots.

Bleaurgh. I envy anyone who's getting on all right with their semester -- all face to face, or all online, I think would be ok, but this 'blended learning' shit is mental.

If you've recorded all your lectures, next year you'll have 95% time for research, with 5% of your time spent video editing updates to the material. Or the University could invest in hologram lecturers if they insist on f2f. The students can be hologrammed into your office as you research and if they have a question a sound will notify you that their hand is raised.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: idunnosomename on October 07, 2020, 12:03:29 PM
I used teams and i like that you can blur the hovel behind you or make into a super-clean modern abode
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on October 07, 2020, 01:03:38 PM
I used teams and i like that you can blur the hovel behind you or make into a super-clean modern abode

I#ve uploaded my own pictures so it looks as if I'm lecturing from the top level of the Colesseum and stuff.

If you've recorded all your lectures, next year you'll have 95% time for research, with 5% of your time spent video editing updates to the material. Or the University could invest in hologram lecturers if they insist on f2f. The students can be hologrammed into your office as you research and if they have a question a sound will notify you that their hand is raised.

Myself am hoping simply to be replaced with a Gerry Anderson-style marionette.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Camp Tramp on October 07, 2020, 01:51:38 PM


Myself am hoping simply to be replaced with a Gerry Anderson-style marionette.

Not a Terrorhawks one?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on October 07, 2020, 01:56:10 PM
Not a Terrorhawks one?

Yikes -- had to loook that up. :)

I'm fine being represented as Lady Penelope.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: confettiinmyhair on October 07, 2020, 02:01:02 PM
My university insists that all sessions be recorded, including ones where all of the students are present (no absences, no one dialling in). This includes recording individual seminars on modules which has been causing all sorts of issues (ie, a module divided into 2 or more seminars -- so that all of the students can see all of the seminar recordings and not just their own).

Aside from the legal issues, it's generally irritating, as the students are hesitant to speak when they know they're being recorded.

None of the students so far who dial into Teams turn on their webcams -- I am faced with a wall of avatars when I teach face to face. Last week I had four students in the classroom, and 15 avatars on the screen. It's rare for anyone who's dialled in actually to participate, whether through the raise hand function or through chat. For all I know, they dial in and then go off and do something else for an hour -- colleagues do that during meetings/training sessions, so no reason to think that students don't, either.

I've got to record lectures now, even when I do them face to face and the whole group is there, something I really don't like, but I suppose it's for when the university finally replaces us with robots.

Bleaurgh. I envy anyone who's getting on all right with their semester -- all face to face, or all online, I think would be ok, but this 'blended learning' shit is mental.

Sounds hard. I've learnt from this and more recently have made a verbal contract with my students. Explain why it might be better to see faces rather than avatars. It's what I've also done in my clinical supervision groups.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Camp Tramp on October 07, 2020, 02:03:31 PM
Sounds hard. I've learnt from this and more recently have made a verbal contract with my students. Explain why it might be better to see faces rather than avatars. It's what I've also done in my clinical supervision groups.

My lecturers concur. One said that it was disconcerting to just be talking to a computer, with no body language to get cues from. Must be like an actor recording a scene in a sound booth with no human to react against.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on October 07, 2020, 03:00:52 PM
Sounds hard. I've learnt from this and more recently have made a verbal contract with my students. Explain why it might be better to see faces rather than avatars. It's what I've also done in my clinical supervision groups.

Have done, in modules ranging from years 1 to 3 (about why it's better that they have the cameras on). None of them have switched on. Other colleagues have made similiar complaints :(  I've even gone through with them how they can change their backgrounds and how to upload different backgrounds (I spent a faculty meeting with the Liberator flight deck as my background).

I'm in the middle of tutorials now (in between students at the moment), and asked one student several times please to turn on his camera for the tutorial. The wall of avatars in class is one thing, but it's quite annoying when we're doing a one to one.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on October 07, 2020, 07:59:54 PM
The two things I miss the most are being able to see people’s faces and a writing surface that keeps up with me in real time. (We do lots of writing as we lecture, and none of the tech is up to this job).

I quite like the stream of text chat, but students can hide it if they don’t like it. Also we’ve established some etiquette where the chat is reserved for substantive comments, and reaction buttons are used to REACT. This goes a long way to mitigating the “talking to a blank screen” thing.

Tutorials have been harder work, but the last two I did had a fair bit of interaction. And everyone says “thanks” as they leave which they don’t in real life, so at least that’s something.

The amount of email is getting out of hand though. We think that because students can’t just chat with each other about basic things like assignment due dates and stuff they are turning to the lecturers.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on October 07, 2020, 08:01:13 PM
The two things I miss the most are being able to see people’s faces and a writing surface that keeps up with me in real time. (We do lots of writing as we lecture, and none of the tech is up to this job).

I quite like the stream of text chat, but students can hide it if they don’t like it. Also we’ve established some etiquette where the chat is reserved for substantive comments, and reaction buttons are used to REACT. This goes a long way to mitigating the “talking to a blank screen” thing.

Tutorials have been harder work, but the last two I did had a fair bit of interaction. And everyone says “thanks” as they leave which they don’t in real life, so at least that’s something.

The amount of email is getting out of hand though. We think that because students can’t just chat with each other about basic things like assignment due dates and stuff they are turning to the lecturers.

if you feel comfortable, what discipline do you teach?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on October 08, 2020, 06:14:39 PM
“Bondage and”, eh, readers?

This is an introductory maths course.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on October 08, 2020, 06:31:03 PM
Just had a contract extension. Thank the lord for dirty ev0l Big Pharma cash.

Had a lot of colleagues go to The Dark Side and take jobs in pharma, which makes me wonder why the fuck I stay in academia, until I actually look up the job descriptions and realise I'd fucking hate working in a pharma and remember that I actually like my job for the most part.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on October 08, 2020, 07:01:48 PM
Just had a contract extension. Thank the lord for dirty ev0l Big Pharma cash.

Had a lot of colleagues go to The Dark Side and take jobs in pharma, which makes me wonder why the fuck I stay in academia, until I actually look up the job descriptions and realise I'd fucking hate working in a pharma and remember that I actually like my job for the most part.

After 4 days working in Big Gov, this has returned a smile to my face. Congrats and enjoy your academic freedom to live, to breathe, to eat lunch. 4 days has seemed like 4 months.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Zetetic on October 08, 2020, 07:14:39 PM
Spend 20 seconds thinking about what happens in September every year and how students change address but sometimes still get stuff sent to their family home, or how they might not change GP or the address that their GP holds.

You've now spent longer on this issue than Deloitte/UK Gov/DHSC seems to have done.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on October 08, 2020, 07:17:08 PM
Spend 20 seconds thinking about what happens in September every year and how students change address but sometimes still get stuff sent to their family home, or how they might not change GP or the address that their GP holds.

You've now spent longer on this issue than Deloitte/UK Gov/DHSC seems to have done.

Confirmed.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Zetetic on October 08, 2020, 07:18:35 PM
Whoops, meant to say "NHS Digital" instead of "DHSC" actually.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on October 08, 2020, 07:37:04 PM
After 4 days working in Big Gov, this has returned a smile to my face. Congrats and enjoy your academic freedom to live, to breathe, to eat lunch. 4 days has seemed like 4 months.

Cheers Blodders. It's only six months but that's long enough to learn the outcome of a few grant applications and if we'll get more money from collaborations with industry. At the very worst I've been bought some time before I can start to panic again.

The thought of having just three more paycheques  had been hanging over me so it's been a big relief to be told I'll have at least nine, and I won't find myself job searching in the middle of a pandemic. Fingers crossed the economy will have picked up by summer.

I got my current job via the university's redeployment service. They're usually pretty good because my employers would much rather keep people being useful than have to write a load of nice fat redundancy cheques, but this time has been very different. Heard about two jobs that would have been perfect for me only to learn that they had been equally perfect for the recruiting group leader's technician/postdoc/research assistant who was also facing redundancy.

This is one reason why a load of my colleagues have fucked off to Big Pharma. Lots of people at risk of redundancy all scrabbling for the reduced number of jobs in academia, might as well go after that sweet, sweet Covid cash.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on October 08, 2020, 07:46:37 PM
Its a nice comfort blanket. I enjoyed that feeling but I've run out of time and luck. Although Imperial have pricked their ears up at me potentially applying for a Future Leaders Fellowship with them. Otherwise, the dark gloom of a government role looms and an early heart attack. I can't bear having a knot in my stomach from dawn until dusk.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on October 08, 2020, 10:29:25 PM
One bad thing is that I'd love to go out and celebrate with a nice meal and a few drinks on Saturday, but being in the central belt of Scotland means I can't.

I'm lucky because we have a collaboration with a professor who is very good at finding extra money to keep staff on, but I'm 40 next year and wondering if I'll ever be ready to go for a PI position. Right now I still feel too young and stupid for that level of responsibility.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on October 08, 2020, 10:50:27 PM
One bad thing is that I'd love to go out and celebrate with a nice meal and a few drinks on Saturday, but being in the central belt of Scotland means I can't.

I'm lucky because we have a collaboration with a professor who is very good at finding extra money to keep staff on, but I'm 40 next year and wondering if I'll ever be ready to go for a PI position. Right now I still feel too young and stupid for that level of responsibility.

Same here, but sadly the expectation is that you become the adult in the room even if you are not that personality type
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on October 09, 2020, 11:59:45 AM
I don't know, I just don't think I have my One Big Research Question ready yet. I'm actually good at supervising students for the most part, but I have struggled with two in particular and the prospect of ending up with a cocky or lazy student and trying to steer them all the way through a PhD is a frightening one.

I've been lucky in that I've only had one bad boss, in my previous job. He wasn't cut out to be a PI at all and was totally out of his depth, very very absent and with a cocky wee shite of a PhD student who didn't respect him (or me) and whom he couldn't rein in. She had done three lab rotations in her first year and her first choice of PI had refused to take her on because he had identified her as a potential research fraud risk, and being a more junior PI meant my boss had been lumbered with her instead. I couldn't live with myself if I was a crap boss who failed students and staff, and I wouldn't want them to fail me either.

The idea of being a "perma-doc" appeals. A senior postdoc with a lecturer's salary but none of the HR and grant-writing responsibilities, nice. The problem is that while you can coast along pretty comfortably for a while, when your PI eventually retires you're fucked. I know two perma-docs and one is probably good for a few more years, but the other has a PI who is pushing 70 and she will almost certainly have to find a new lab soon, or finally establish her own, if it isn't too late for her.

Those opportunities are also pretty rare these days, most universities expect their postdocs to go for PI opportunities as soon as they have enough experience.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on October 09, 2020, 01:43:55 PM
I got my lecturership when I was 32 and properly struggled the first three years. It was only in the last year of my first PhD that things clicked and I realised that I had to be the adult in the room when I was in the office.

What didn't help was teaching on 9 modules - 2 * 1st year maths, 4 where I was module lead, 1 where an additional pair of hands was needed for the coursework and then the 2 project modules we run.

I also don't have my One Big Research Question but my field lends itself to having a wide range of smaller projects and that works for me.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on October 09, 2020, 01:57:01 PM
Had our first two cases this week. One lad who was meant to be isolating rocked up to a lab, and got turned around. Another emailed in.


Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on October 09, 2020, 05:03:06 PM
I don't know, I just don't think I have my One Big Research Question ready yet. I'm actually good at supervising students for the most part, but I have struggled with two in particular and the prospect of ending up with a cocky or lazy student and trying to steer them all the way through a PhD is a frightening one.



I was always given the worst MSc students to supervise as I wanted to do modelling and environmental engineering students prefer getting in the lab or field. This year I got a promising student but he fucked off to China to get a job. Got his thesis in an I graded him 60% because I was astounded he'd done some work and it wasn't crap - although it wasn't what we agreed on him doing post-coved (it was actually going to be my first foray into lab work as a supervisor).

Anyway, I've just got the green light from Imperial College to submit a pre-application for a Future Leaders Fellowship prior to a full application. A chance to get straight back into academia, but the last 2 days in Government have.actually.been.enjoyable (first 3 days were the scariest and toughest days in work, ever).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on October 09, 2020, 05:06:30 PM

The idea of being a "perma-doc" appeals. A senior postdoc with a lecturer's salary but none of the HR and grant-writing responsibilities, nice. The problem is that while you can coast along pretty comfortably for a while, when your PI eventually retires you're fucked. I know two perma-docs and one is probably good for a few more years, but the other has a PI who is pushing 70 and she will almost certainly have to find a new lab soon, or finally establish her own, if it isn't too late for her.

Those opportunities are also pretty rare these days, most universities expect their postdocs to go for PI opportunities as soon as they have enough experience.

I shared an office with 2 'perm-docs', one a famous hill runner who was never there and for whom academia was a hobby, and the other about my age and also suffering imposter syndrome (but also a massive Labour centrist in the end). That life is appealing and I am mere flotsam on the waves of fortune, each crest is marked by a return to the tumult below.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on October 09, 2020, 05:37:50 PM
Fun Friday, as the numbers of students now skipping classes or attending online when they should be in class are increasing.

My last class of the day (a solid six hours of face to face teaching on Fridays) -- two out of 13 students showed up to the classroom, and two dialled in who contributed nothing, wouldn't respond when directly addressed, and immediately logged out when I started to wrap things up.

Apparently it's happening across all of the face to face modules -- 1 or 2 students showing up for class and a handful dialling in who don't participate.

We were told to put a fuckton of 'engaging activities' on each week's module, so that the students felt as if they're getting value for money -- it's been taking me hours to set up my classes each week...and the first feedback review from student reps is that we're putting way too much stuff up online for them to do every week, and they can't keep up so they're just giving up.

So we've been told to increase Teams facetime with special weekly 'town hall' and 'coffee club' meetings (which none of the students have attended so far), chase up students who aren't attending and ask if everything's ok, and to reflect on our modules to see how we can boost student engagement.

Good times.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on October 09, 2020, 05:59:56 PM
from twitter
Quote
Sister has covid at uni. A bit unwell but not badly so. Uni has generously offered to feed her for £18 a day. Has met 1 member of uni staff since arriving 3 weeks ago - porter who showed her to the halls. She could easily have stayed with mum or with me and done online lectures.

When I splurged too much cash I got my weekly food shop down to a fiver a week.

I was in catered halls in first year and I wouldn't have fed it to a dog. Sometimes it was so bad you just had to say 'fuck it' and have a plate of potato wedges with cheese on top. And I'm basically a human dustbin where food is concerned.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: pancreas on October 13, 2020, 06:21:09 PM
Does anyone know any good stats on transmission on campus, non-residential, in particular lecture rooms? In particular, even with masks and social distancing?

It may be that there are some US examples.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on October 13, 2020, 06:33:11 PM
Does anyone know any good stats on transmission on campus, non-residential, in particular lecture rooms? In particular, even with masks and social distancing?

It may be that there are some US examples.

well, only theoretical and a bit early

https://stack.dailybruin.com/2020/05/12/covid-model/ (https://stack.dailybruin.com/2020/05/12/covid-model/)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on October 13, 2020, 06:34:56 PM
If you don't invite your cohort back to yours for fun and revelry, you should be ok. But aren't NU going on-line at Tier 3 now?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on October 13, 2020, 06:42:46 PM
We’ve spent weeks putting stickers up, measuring and reducing classroom sizes to allow social distancing and I walk by one lecture room today and some students have pulled some tables together to work on a project.

The lecturer seems unconcerned, if he didn’t ask them to do it in the first place.

I give up.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: pancreas on October 13, 2020, 08:28:21 PM
well, only theoretical and a bit early

https://stack.dailybruin.com/2020/05/12/covid-model/ (https://stack.dailybruin.com/2020/05/12/covid-model/)

Not useful, but thanks for trying. Here's the thing: UK universities believe they have summoned up 'covid-secure' campuses. They believe you cannot get infected on campus, because it is 'covid-secure'. So I just need some examples of actual staff infections in universities. Just a few cases will be enough, even better if they end up with long covid.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: pancreas on October 13, 2020, 08:38:35 PM
Here's one:

https://twitter.com/MatthewLBishop/status/1313949882454077441?s=20
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on October 13, 2020, 09:29:22 PM
About 30 hrs of f2f under my belt so far. Not dead but only a matter of time innit. How did guy above know he got infected in a seminar - I can't be arsed reading the twitter thread?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on October 13, 2020, 09:35:10 PM
To win this battle you need to cover all your bases/faces.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: pancreas on October 13, 2020, 09:58:57 PM
About 30 hrs of f2f under my belt so far. Not dead but only a matter of time innit. How did guy above know he got infected in a seminar - I can't be arsed reading the twitter thread?

dunno mate. I can't be arsed either.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on October 13, 2020, 10:01:48 PM
Not useful, but thanks for trying. Here's the thing: UK universities believe they have summoned up 'covid-secure' campuses. They believe you cannot get infected on campus, because it is 'covid-secure'. So I just need some examples of actual staff infections in universities. Just a few cases will be enough, even better if they end up with long covid.

Into week 4, me, of 10 contact hours a week, mostly 1 hour at a time, and a few 2 hour blocks. Small classrooms with poor ventilation; two of them laughingly 'socially distanced' (I have students sat about 3 feet away from me). Two rooms where you can't open the windows, so the AC is cranked sky high.

We're to keep windows wide open in the classrooms that have windows; it was freezing in those rooms on Monday as it's been rainy and sleety here the past few days.

So if covid doesn't get me, pneumonia probably will; I've been so cold a couple of times in the classroom that my teeth were rattling. I plan to start wearing 1940's- era double-knit jumpers I've inherited from my dad.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on October 14, 2020, 08:11:24 AM
Yeah I had a bobble hat on yesterday.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on October 14, 2020, 06:11:48 PM
Pre Christmas university closures planned in England I think.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on October 14, 2020, 06:46:44 PM
Yeah, they want to move to lockdown and online teaching between 8 December and 22 December.

That would cover the last week of our term, as we finish fairly early in December.

My heaviest teaching days are tomorrow and Friday, and judging from how many students are actually coming to class, I might as well be teaching online. Had 2 in class last Thursday with maybe 10 online (small final year module).

I figure by the middle of the semester I'll be in the classroom alone teaching to a cluster of avatars on the screen.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: George Oscar Bluth II on October 14, 2020, 06:55:48 PM
How much "in person" teaching is happening at unis with big outbreaks where presumably lots of students are either ill or self isolating?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on October 14, 2020, 07:08:16 PM
Our uni has under 40 cases in staff and students and management think things are going reasonably smoothly at the moment so this isn’t going to go down well with them.

Also, as plans go, it seems to be leaving a lot of space on the back of the fag packet.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on October 14, 2020, 07:16:04 PM
We have 'only' half dozen cases, but my university insists it's not the same half dozen; that the original people isolating with covid are now all better, and these are just rando cases/flukes.

I suspect we'd have to be 90% infected with covid before my uni shut down, and even then would be reluctant. They were not happy when we had to go online in March (senior management, of course, bugged off campus a good two weeks prior to that, though).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: drummersaredeaf on October 15, 2020, 12:14:53 AM
I don't think this has been posted. It's a few days old and very much belongs here.

Birmingham UCU have declared a dispute: https://birminghamucu.org/2020/10/12/ucu-declares-formal-dispute-with-university-of-birmingham-over-on-campus-working-and-teaching/
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on October 15, 2020, 07:11:40 AM
Just had a calendar invite for our department’s Christmas party.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on October 15, 2020, 08:55:27 AM
The uni has a dashboard: 48 student cases over the whole university and 2 staff cases. However, it feels like the on-campus accomodation is riddled with the bug.

We've had 1 positive case from a student in the department and there's a whole track and trace mechanism in place which swung into action. We've also done our own internal chasing - getting in touch with students we knew had worked close with them in the preceding week.

We've got the target of 3 hours per week face to face teaching, which we've done with practical classes (using < 20% of capacity of the UG labs) and targeted maths tutorials (< 10 students in a lecture theatre). Certainly distanced.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on October 15, 2020, 10:09:36 AM
Just had a calendar invite for our department’s Christmas party.

I've just had an invite for our department's annual Christmas quiz. It is however going to be online this year. We'll all be forming teams with the other members of our household and will have to do our own buffet and provide our own booze.

No Christmas party this year!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on October 15, 2020, 10:18:29 AM
Embra seems to be doing the opposite of most universities- keeping the staff safe while treating the students like crap:

https://www.edinburghlive.co.uk/news/edinburgh-news/out-date-food-fines-isolation-19020109

https://www.edinburghlive.co.uk/news/edinburgh-news/self-isolating-student-edinburgh-university-19086734

https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/health/coronavirus/pollock-halls-edinburgh-university-students-asked-pitch-deliver-food-isolating-classmates-company-pulls-out-2999346

Not only are we giving them inedible food and overcharging them for it, they've now got to do the (unpaid) work of delivering it themselves. This has made me feel pretty ashamed and angry, and glad I no longer do any teaching and won't have to face the angry mob next year.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Ominous Dave on October 18, 2020, 06:44:44 PM
This is just going to fucking collapse the UK university system isn't it? It's been coming for a long while because it's a rancid, rotten system run by cunts, but I have so many friends who are academics and are going to be utterly fucked by this that it's tragic. How many students do they think will actually come back after Christmas if this shit keeps going?

(The most comical bit was the idea that universities 'might tell students they can't come home over Christmas', as if they have any legal authority to do that. Though maybe the Cummings-led government will just arbitrarily decide they do, as it its wont.)

In my more radical moments I tend to think that academics need to start thinking about what's going to replace the university system rather than working to prop it up. But that obviously isn't much help to people who rely on it for their living.

It's just all fucked, isn't it.

Just feeling very glad that I decided not to become an academic now.[1]
 1. My only actual teaching experience was trying to teach basic mathematical logic to first-year philosophy students. Which was like pulling teeth. From your own diseased skull.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: George Oscar Bluth II on October 21, 2020, 10:36:10 AM
At the base of it the problem is that marketised system. Students want "the student experience" still, so in August everyone had to pretend that is what they would offer. Any university that was honest and upfront that the experience would be mostly Zoom calls and there was a high chance you'd be locked in your halls for two weeks at a time would have been totally fucked.

Of course, for all their claims about "levelling up" etc this government really wants fewer of the plebs to go to university, so would have been quite happy to see some go to the wall.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: pancreas on October 21, 2020, 09:44:09 PM
Hmm.

https://twitter.com/NewcastleUniUCU/status/1319010758622064642?s=20
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Shoulders?-Stomach! on October 21, 2020, 10:07:41 PM
At the base of it the problem is that marketised system. Students want "the student experience" still, so in August everyone had to pretend that is what they would offer. Any university that was honest and upfront that the experience would be mostly Zoom calls and there was a high chance you'd be locked in your halls for two weeks at a time would have been totally fucked.

Of course, for all their claims about "levelling up" etc this government really wants fewer of the plebs to go to university, so would have been quite happy to see some go to the wall.

At the same time, any A-Level student who thought the academic year coming/their potential first year at uni was going to be anything other than a fucking nightmare of restricted civil liberties, mumps, stds, prison in halls, covid, 1980s packed lunches and so on was woefully naive, but even as an umbrella to that, their parents should have advised that they take gap years. Even A-level results were a clusterfuck. Absolutely nothing signalled 'this is going to go well'.

You are right an underlying problem is of course marketised education where it becomes a product in effect and so students and parents start treating it like a product and service you purchase. They can't get their head around simple facts like module enrollment being full up, because all the other indicators are that they have purchased this service and now they get to decide how to utilise it.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on October 21, 2020, 10:44:38 PM
Hmm.

https://twitter.com/NewcastleUniUCU/status/1319010758622064642?s=20

I saw the email but no idea what that tweet means
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Captain Z on October 21, 2020, 11:34:58 PM
their parents should have advised that they take gap years.

To do what, exactly?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Shoulders?-Stomach! on October 22, 2020, 08:04:50 AM
To do what, exactly?

Whatever it is has to be better than this.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: George Oscar Bluth II on October 22, 2020, 10:43:59 AM
I thought that about gap years too but things you do in your gap year are, like, do a crappy job, probably in the service industry, to save money or do a crappy job and then go traveling and neither of those things are possible this year.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Bernice on October 22, 2020, 11:07:20 AM
Yeah I can't blame 18 year olds for deciding they'd rather not sit around unemployed in their parents house for another fucking year. I imagine 6 months of that was long enough.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Poobum on October 23, 2020, 06:15:14 PM
I'm a bit mixed about the whole thing. Online has been relatively painless, the lecturers are basically competent at running teams sessions, personable, and the content is well explained and engaging. Reading the trouble people are having running that stuff on here only increases my admiration. My main problem is I'm just struggling to get into the right working head space at home. Doesn't help that as part of my access course last term to get here, I covered most of the stuff their currently doing, so I don't feel intellectually switched on.

I'm at Notts Trent, but at the agricultural college which is out in the countryside. I have less sympathy for all the people who went out on freshers, just irresponsible, and putting everyone else in danger (am old cynic though). Then I was shocked any of this stuff was still being put. Thankfully being at least 10 years older than everyone else, the whole thing never appealed. It's been interesting regards to going in, with the first practical animal handling lesson just being me and the tutor, due to everyone else being in isolation. Could definitely get used to that.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on October 26, 2020, 03:34:21 PM
Probably not the right thread, but I read this and was astonished

Quote
By one estimate, the pandemic has cost colleges at least $120 billion, with even Harvard University, despite its $41.9 billion endowment, reporting a $10 million deficit that has prompted belt tightening.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/26/us/colleges-coronavirus-budget-cuts.html

A $10m shortfall has lead to cuts, rather than dip into the kitty that exists to keep the university afloat and take out 0.024% of the value. Does this not seem absolutely insane?

Why the fuck is an education institution focusing on accruing capital at the expense of sacking workers? That seems crazy. Similar to the grauniad thread from a few months back - there are Smaug-like vaults owned by these institutions they could use to plug any gaps, as the funds were intended to be used (!), but instead, they are cutting jobs and making decisions that have real, lasting impacts on actual human beings.

Am I misreading this? Has the world always been in this bonkers? What possible argument could a university make for maintaining all this cash if not for exactly this type of crisis? There is a weak defence offered later in the article but it holds absolutely zero water with me (“we only made $300m last year so have to sack everyone to cover the $10m hole this year”).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on October 26, 2020, 06:14:59 PM
Probably not the right thread, but I read this and was astonished

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/26/us/colleges-coronavirus-budget-cuts.html

A $10m shortfall has lead to cuts, rather than dip into the kitty that exists to keep the university afloat and take out 0.024% of the value. Does this not seem absolutely insane?

That may be comparable to the situation at King's College London a few years back, when the suits realised the university owned a lot of prime central London real estate and could make money hosting conferences and renting it out, so they decided it would be good to focus on that and close a department or two and sack a load of teaching and research staff. You know, people who do teaching and research, the two things a university is set up to do.

I imagine we'll be seeing a lot more of that sort of thing, sadly.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on October 26, 2020, 06:20:53 PM
It turns out my uni’s Covid figures aren’t as good as they at first seem. The main website has a rolling total of cases which is now only a little over 100. But, apparently, the number in the halls is around 500. Quite how that can be considered separate from the university itself I don’t really understand.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on October 27, 2020, 09:19:52 AM
We have a dashboard that helpfully tells you the number of cases we had on campus within 2 days of the positive test.

That number is 4.

Cheers!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on October 27, 2020, 09:20:58 AM
That may be comparable to the situation at King's College London a few years back, when the suits realised the university owned a lot of prime central London real estate and could make money hosting conferences and renting it out, so they decided it would be good to focus on that and close a department or two and sack a load of teaching and research staff. You know, people who do teaching and research, the two things a university is set up to do.

I imagine we'll be seeing a lot more of that sort of thing, sadly.

Chemistry, that's got labs that sit empty for hours at a time and needs loads of specialist staff. What a waste.

(while completely failing to realise such labs need a lot of work to decontaminate and turn into anything else).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Zetetic on October 27, 2020, 09:44:34 AM
Looks like one solution to having far too many cases in unis is going to be roll out a self-test with a sufficiently high false negative rate.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on October 29, 2020, 08:15:54 AM
I'm a bit mixed about the whole thing. Online has been relatively painless, the lecturers are basically competent at running teams sessions, personable, and the content is well explained and engaging. Reading the trouble people are having running that stuff on here only increases my admiration. My main problem is I'm just struggling to get into the right working head space at home. Doesn't help that as part of my access course last term to get here, I covered most of the stuff their currently doing, so I don't feel intellectually switched on.

I'm at Notts Trent, but at the agricultural college which is out in the countryside. I have less sympathy for all the people who went out on freshers, just irresponsible, and putting everyone else in danger (am old cynic though). Then I was shocked any of this stuff was still being put. Thankfully being at least 10 years older than everyone else, the whole thing never appealed. It's been interesting regards to going in, with the first practical animal handling lesson just being me and the tutor, due to everyone else being in isolation. Could definitely get used to that.

It's really interesting hearing from people on the other side of this.

I am worried about our first year students - I picture them being confined to their tiny rooms in hall, being force fed with Sandwich Lunch B - but I suspect the reality may not be as grim as this. Certainly they are engaging well in my course, and generally uni work is the first thing to go down the pan when students are stressed / depressed so perhaps a sign that they are coping ok. It would be good to have a clearer picture of this, because other than that I think we are doing a fairly decent job of all this (although I'm slightly nervous about saying that on a public forum, in case it comes back to bite me on the arse).

I was not at all surprised that our 1st year intake held up. If I was 18, what would I have done? Travelled the world? Not when you'd have to spend the whole time in quarantine, and wouldn't know if you could get back. Get a job? Yeah, right. Oh, and my A Level results were a bit better than expected, so if I wait until next year when I might actually have to sit an exam... Equally, I am sure that hall outbreaks and self-isolation would have made me even more miserable than I was when I started university. I might have taken the option to return home and study from there; or possibly I might have made a couple of decent mates and decided to stick it out. I've heard stories of people doing both.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on October 29, 2020, 10:37:16 AM
Yes, when I was 18 I was absolutely desperate to escape my miserable little village, the 'vid wouldn't have put me off back then. Although if I was 18 now the tuition fees would have kept me in that miserable little village...

Here it looks like we'll be starting to relax our 'elf and safety rules a bit, and we'll be opening up our lecture theatre for a bit of socially-distanced face-to-face learning. It sounds like it'll be managed pretty well tbf.

We've also had a bit of a telling-off for doing lots of lab work but not enough data analysis, and demands to know why we're not using the powerful and expensive computers that have been conveniently locked up inside our offices... It looks like I'm now getting my custom-built microscopy data computer delivered to ma hoose so I can actually get some work done. It's not ideal and I'm having to sort myself out with a very compact home office space, but the original plan to get people back in their offices by January seems to have gone right out the window.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on October 29, 2020, 10:51:22 AM
Again, I think at the start of this, people were expecting a greater degree of normality come Autumn, and more-or-less business as usual in 2021. I think it's now accepted we're in this for the long haul.

I am very interested in seeing hard data wrt transmission under 2m social distancing in our teaching spaces. All I know is that the number of cases among our staff are so small there are no numbers to crunch. I guess one would need to look across the whole sector to get any decent statistics, but that would be confounded by different institutions having different policies.

EDIT: agree re fees. They need to go... but we still need to decide what HE is actually for. Stuff like this https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/oct/24/its-had-a-lasting-impact-students-on-being-bullied-over-their-accents makes me think that most school-leavers should do something else.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Poobum on October 29, 2020, 10:54:54 AM
I'm curious, has anyone had a student hijack an online lecture and start closing stuff down, booting people out? Cause I've been in a couple of lectures where that's happened, and it's infuriating. I'm hoping the consequences if caught are severe.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on October 29, 2020, 10:58:31 AM
Nope, because I'm using a system where that's not possible. In fact, we have the opposite problem of trying to get people to engage by opening their mics and talking. It seems text chat is the favoured way to interact.

It would be contrary to our code of conduct to behave like that. Either the lecturer or the student could make a complaint to get the process started - at least, that's how it works where I am and I understand that most universities have the same sorts of procedures. (That said, when I read QAA case studies on this sort of thing, I have encountered case studies of the process at other institutions that have been a bit eyebrow raising).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on October 29, 2020, 11:03:03 AM
We've got a problem in that the places where we have to wear masks, like lab spaces and stock rooms, are big and empty and relatively safe, but areas like break rooms and cafes, where people don't wear masks because they're eating, are crowded and don't feel very safe at all. Also people are bringing in laptops and using the cafe as an office space because they can't use their offices, and this is the only way to get data analysis done in, say, the 2 hours you're waiting for an incubation step of an experiment to finish. We may as well have reopened the library for all the overcrowding we're getting here.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on October 30, 2020, 02:54:43 PM
Just taken delivery of a compact office desk, the same one half the country seems to have bought from Amazon, and set up my little home office/man cave. Quite pleased with it actually but would rather just have access to my office at werk.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on October 30, 2020, 05:21:30 PM
Irony being, of course, there's probably plenty of empty offices lying around that you could use. Mine, for example.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on October 31, 2020, 11:30:39 AM
Looks like Lockdown II: The Wrath of Covid won’t apply to universities, but will it still have an effect on how we operate?

My uni seems quite pleased at how low its numbers are, but no one really knows if it is down to all the social distancing work we’ve done or just luck. There’s about a month to the end of term. How will that go?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on November 05, 2020, 07:35:11 PM
They're fencing them in, in Manchester.
https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/nov/05/security-fence-manchester-university-student-flats?CMP=twt_a-education_b-gdnedu
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Better Midlands on November 05, 2020, 10:05:34 PM
They're fencing them in, in Manchester.
https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/nov/05/security-fence-manchester-university-student-flats?CMP=twt_a-education_b-gdnedu

https://twitter.com/themancunion/status/1324447530025951235?s=09

(https://i.imgur.com/1cSBVRf.jpg)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on November 06, 2020, 11:32:11 PM
My university has seriously ramped up open days (like, holding them practically every week now -- if not the official ones on Saturdays, then special mid-week evening, six-hour extravaganzas. They can't figure out why no one is rushing to host the evening ones -- maybe because we're all working 7 days weeks just to keep up with all of the other shit, and no one wants to be doing welcome events and talks from 4pm through to 10pm in the middle of the week? Dunno, just a guess.)

Whee.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on November 07, 2020, 09:15:11 AM
My university has seriously ramped up open days (like, holding them practically every week now -- if not the official ones on Saturdays, then special mid-week evening, six-hour extravaganzas. They can't figure out why no one is rushing to host the evening ones -- maybe because we're all working 7 days weeks just to keep up with all of the other shit, and no one wants to be doing welcome events and talks from 4pm through to 10pm in the middle of the week? Dunno, just a guess.)

Whee.

Corporate bell-ends. Push back against these clowns. Make Universities great again.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on November 07, 2020, 09:16:20 AM
Maybe you could have a word with your new bezzie mate Cummings to make that happen?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on November 07, 2020, 09:46:20 AM
Maybe you could have a word with your new bezzie mate Cummings to make that happen?

What? He wants the dismantling of the academic system in favour of institutes becoming independent (data science institute for example), he won't listen to me.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on November 07, 2020, 10:47:29 AM
Quite. And it's not like Attila's VC will listen to her either.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on November 07, 2020, 11:06:47 AM
Quite. And it's not like Attila's VC will listen to her either.

Would not a threat of withdrawal of labour work - given she is one of one who can do her job? oh, just seen that they could just close the programme.

OK, I've got Dom on my WhatsApp now, let's structure a message between us.

Dom, Dom Corleone. Dom Perignon, the Domster!

How's it hanging. Been putting a shift in, 96 hours flat out. Yeh yeh yeh, I know you hate this braggadocio and this is the minimum expected...well, got a little favour to ask...

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on November 07, 2020, 11:26:09 AM
Would not a threat of withdrawal of labour work - given she is one of one who can do her job? oh, just seen that they could just close the programme.

Yes, they've got her over a barrel. What's needed is for the trade union to get its arse into gear and prioritise people keeping their jobs and conditions in the face of a management that seems bent on using covid as a smokescreen to drive through changes they've been attempting for years. Unfortunately, I have as much control over my trade union as I do over my VC.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on November 07, 2020, 02:52:01 PM
Sadly, it's true -- they'd be very happy if I threw my toys out of the pram, because then they could 'encourage' me into redundancy, which would close my programme (and put three other people out of jobs -- which may happen to me anyway, as another person on my programme has had enough and is making noises about seeing out this year & resigning).

We're supposedly way down on applications compared to this time last year, so the inevitable hit of redundancies already planned for next summer will be even harsher. Word on the street is that they want to dump all of our arts & humanities programmes. Good times.

Meanwhile, I'm spending most of today and a good 6 hours or so Sunday, as usual, scrambling to keep up with all of the stuff we're meant to be doing for blended learning, all of the additional paperwork and logistics staff now have to measure about student engagement, and the fuckton of marking that has started rolling in on a weekly basis.  I don't even think of Sat & Sun as being the weekend anymore; just two days where I don't have to commute.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on November 07, 2020, 02:53:40 PM
Fuck it, get the redundancy.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on November 07, 2020, 03:03:53 PM
Fuck it, get the redundancy.

. Gah, never mind, I'm getting too moany :).

Back to work!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on November 07, 2020, 03:05:24 PM
Yes, they've got her over a barrel. What's needed is for the trade union to get its arse into gear and prioritise people keeping their jobs and conditions in the face of a management that seems bent on using covid as a smokescreen to drive through changes they've been attempting for years. Unfortunately, I have as much control over my trade union as I do over my VC.

*paging Pancreas*
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: pancreas on November 08, 2020, 11:05:52 AM
Happy to give advice on UCU matters by PM.

I recently got accidentally cc'd into an email to Exec Board, discussing an email I'd sent to members—which immediately get leaked to executive board. 'Not a bad email from pancreas, to be fair,' replied the VC. Was this close to replying to all with 'Thanks Dad.'
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on November 08, 2020, 11:22:46 AM
Maybe you could start with generalities. If there's something I'm bothered about, is it worth emailing the local branch about it?

From the meetings I've been to, what seems to happen is there's motions that come out of nowhere... there's the usual windbagging that takes place in the name of democracy, and then there's a vote... and then what?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: pancreas on November 08, 2020, 04:06:48 PM
Here are some of your levers:

• (Informal) meetings with management. You need to be able to put a business case, a legal case, a moral case. Often SMTs are not complete shit-heads. Often they will listen to reason. (Not all the time, of course.)
• Formal negotiations. See if you can get a copy of your UCU recognition agreement. It will detail the mechanisms by which you can force management to respond to requests. There will be mention of ACAS mediation if there are failures to agree.
• Industrial action (as a last resort). We would never have got to Attila's situation because we would be on strike already. This requires serious organisation, and a UCU committee which is more-or-less on your side. It *is* possible to circumvent a supine committee, but very hard.
• Senate (if you have people on it). Depends on how much power Senate has, and how diluted it is with lackies, but it can embarrass the SMT, slow things down, even completely stop mindless ratfuckery.
• Local UCU Twitter account (you'd be surprised at how touchy they can get about bad PR). For bigger hit, can probably get Jo Grady to comment on something very juicy.
• Press releases to the local/student rag. It'll go to their Press Team and they'll be forced to say something or put down as 'unavailable for comment'.
• Legal action. We tend not to go down this road, but probably should do more. UCU National is launching a judicial review of Government's ignoring SAGE. Liverpool is crowdfunding advice on getting an injunction against compulsory f2f teaching.
• Sting them with H&S wasps. Find all the ways they are not satisfying their responsibilities under 1974 H&S Act, 1977 Safety Act (and the later updates to include RIDDOR reporting). Demand facility time for H&S reps. FoI their risk register. If and when they fail to do what they are legally obliged to, then report them to local Health and Safety Executive.

You can always put your own motion to a branch meeting.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on November 08, 2020, 06:05:12 PM
Happy to give advice on UCU matters by PM.

I recently got accidentally cc'd into an email to Exec Board, discussing an email I'd sent to members—which immediately get leaked to executive board. 'Not a bad email from pancreas, to be fair,' replied the VC. Was this close to replying to all with 'Thanks Dad.'

I'll caveat this with the fact that both the VC and Pancreas luncheon together at "the club".
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on November 08, 2020, 06:08:14 PM
Here are some of your levers:

• (Informal) meetings with management. You need to be able to put a business case, a legal case, a moral case. Often SMTs are not complete shit-heads. Often they will listen to reason. (Not all the time, of course.)
• Formal negotiations. See if you can get a copy of your UCU recognition agreement. It will detail the mechanisms by which you can force management to respond to requests. There will be mention of ACAS mediation if there are failures to agree.
• Industrial action (as a last resort). We would never have got to Attila's situation because we would be on strike already. This requires serious organisation, and a UCU committee which is more-or-less on your side. It *is* possible to circumvent a supine committee, but very hard.
• Senate (if you have people on it). Depends on how much power Senate has, and how diluted it is with lackies, but it can embarrass the SMT, slow things down, even completely stop mindless ratfuckery.
• Local UCU Twitter account (you'd be surprised at how touchy they can get about bad PR). For bigger hit, can probably get Jo Grady to comment on something very juicy.
• Press releases to the local/student rag. It'll go to their Press Team and they'll be forced to say something or put down as 'unavailable for comment'.
• Legal action. We tend not to go down this road, but probably should do more. UCU National is launching a judicial review of Government's ignoring SAGE. Liverpool is crowdfunding advice on getting an injunction against compulsory f2f teaching.
• Sting them with H&S wasps. Find all the ways they are not satisfying their responsibilities under 1974 H&S Act, 1977 Safety Act (and the later updates to include RIDDOR reporting). Demand facility time for H&S reps. FoI their risk register. If and when they fail to do what they are legally obliged to, then report them to local Health and Safety Executive.

You can always put your own motion to a branch meeting.

then... girl, you'll be a woman soon.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on November 08, 2020, 07:43:42 PM
Here are some of your levers:

• (Informal) meetings with management. You need to be able to put a business case, a legal case, a moral case. Often SMTs are not complete shit-heads. Often they will listen to reason. (Not all the time, of course.)

That's generally the road I've been going down, rather than interacting with the union. My departmental boss is excellent, and pushes back against the SMT a lot. But even he has the odd blind spot (probably because he's slightly further away from the chalkface and hasn't experienced some of the pain first hand) and I've been wondering what other routes might be available. I have had some interactions with our branch sec on non-union matters, so could sound him out on the things that are bothering me.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on November 09, 2020, 08:51:40 AM
Here are some of your levers:

• (Informal) meetings with management. You need to be able to put a business case, a legal case, a moral case. Often SMTs are not complete shit-heads. Often they will listen to reason. (Not all the time, of course.)

This one made me smile sadly -- our SMT are a bunch of unmoveable meanies.

Great list, pancreas, and much appreciated. I envy anyone who can apply them successfully to their situation. As crap as mine is, I'm hoping it's only temporary -- the teaching situation, not the fact that I'm employed; of the latter, I'm quite fearful of what the end of this academic year will bring :(
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on November 11, 2020, 07:42:49 AM
I see that the government thinks tha pt every university is like oxbridge and only teaches for three days a year.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on November 11, 2020, 08:24:52 AM
Fingers crossed they never come back
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Bernice on November 11, 2020, 09:35:58 AM
Covid: England students to get six day window to get home before Christmas (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/11/england-students-to-get-six-day-window-to-get-home-before-christmas)

Quote
Students in England will be given a six-day window next month in which to travel home before Christmas, with mass testing carried out on campus before they are allowed to leave.

A mass exodus will take place on staggered departure dates set by universities from 3 December to 9 December after England’s four-week lockdown, under plans announced by the Department for Education (DfE)on Tuesday night. Students testing positive would need to remain in self-isolation for 10 days.

Do students have some special legal basis as citizens where the government can just tell them when they can travel and force them to have a test? Are we not talking about the movement of adults after this lockdown ends? Not to be all "tch, nanny state" but it does feel like the government and a lot of universities have decided that adult undergraduates are actually boarding school pupils.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on November 11, 2020, 09:48:57 AM
My senior management is already freaking out over it, long-time readers of this thread will not be surprised to learn.

The planned exodus week and the teach-from-home week coincide with the last two weeks of our semester, so I don't expect much in the way of any work getting done or any engagement with classes, online or whatever.  Fair enough -- but on top of that, a heck of a lot of assignments and dissertation draft deadlines fall in those weeks. So on top of the clusterfuck that the university has handed our students (and staff) through the entire semester and now lockdown, the students will be expected to work on major projects during an even further-raised stress level. Whee.

Our senior management was finally pressured into a 'town hall' style meeting for later this week to discuss with staff and students how the university has been coping with the covid situation -- they've scheduled it for bang smack in the middle of the busiest teaching day and have no published the Teams link for people to join. It's the union that's had to send around the link for people to join.

It's the gift that keeps on giving.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Camp Tramp on November 11, 2020, 10:33:25 AM
Covid: England students to get six day window to get home before Christmas (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/11/england-students-to-get-six-day-window-to-get-home-before-christmas)

Do students have some special legal basis as citizens where the government can just tell them when they can travel and force them to have a test? Are we not talking about the movement of adults after this lockdown ends? Not to be all "tch, nanny state" but it does feel like the government and a lot of universities have decided that adult undergraduates are actually boarding school pupils.

How are they going to enforce this on students outside of Halls? I know many who have already gone home.

I'm also wondering how this applies to me since I'm a middle aged student who returns to his family just before Xmas?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poodlefaker on November 11, 2020, 10:59:26 AM
Quote
I am worried about our first year students - I picture them being confined to their tiny rooms in hall, being force fed with Sandwich Lunch B - but I suspect the reality may not be as grim as this.

My son seems to be having a great time, doesn't want to come home. He was isolated for a while bcs his flatmate tested positive and the uni gave him fifty quid, which he spent on clothes. He spent March to October this year stuck in his bedroom at home with a feeling of dread, so I think he's happy to be anywhere else with new friends.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on November 11, 2020, 12:55:07 PM
Science subjects representing.

We have planned on-campus sessions all the way to the 18th. Well, had.

Uni policy is postpone not cancel, so how do we do that when we're so tightly booked that we have, checks, no free slots all the way to Easter.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on November 11, 2020, 05:08:17 PM
My son seems to be having a great time, doesn't want to come home. He was isolated for a while bcs his flatmate tested positive and the uni gave him fifty quid, which he spent on clothes. He spent March to October this year stuck in his bedroom at home with a feeling of dread, so I think he's happy to be anywhere else with new friends.

I've heard a few stories like this. I suspect a lot comes down to whether you get on with your flatmates or not - given that presumably you're only able to socialise with the people you live with. In my final year we basically spent most nights in our living room shooting the shit and occasionally went out to the pub or someone else's flat. I preferred that to a more itinerant round of parties, pub/club nights etc. But at least I had chosen who to share with rather than being forced to share with a bunch of random strangers. One of my flatmates in first year was a bit of dick, with nothing in common with the rest of us - that could have been a difficult situation if we'd been isolating. However, I suspect he probably would have moved out in a covid-type situation.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on November 11, 2020, 05:10:03 PM
Science subjects representing.

We have planned on-campus sessions all the way to the 18th. Well, had.

Uni policy is postpone not cancel, so how do we do that when we're so tightly booked that we have, checks, no free slots all the way to Easter.

18th is our last day too - though we finish with a fortnight of exams. It's possible that an exodus window could coincide with our short revision break - which might work for people, who may prefer to take their exams at home than here. Who knows?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on November 11, 2020, 05:33:47 PM
Our term ends on the 11th December so it's not going to have a huge effect on us, but the government can't order students to travel on certain dates and we certainly can't enforce anything. A good few students have gone home during reading week though most have returned or stayed.

Are they expected to isolate for 14 days after they return to Uni after Christmas?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on November 11, 2020, 08:10:40 PM
I’m hoping they test them when they get back.

We’ve been uneasy about treating students differently to the rest of the population. The worst example of this was when Universities Scotland (whom no-one had previously heard of) and the Scottish Government banned students from going to the pub when the general public was still able to.

On the other hand, if an exception to a travel ban is made for students to be able to return home, I guess that’s less objectionable.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on November 12, 2020, 06:16:51 AM
Senior management here still aren't being clear about when we shift to online teaching only -- will it be literally just the last two days of the semester, or starting from 3 December (when the students can start leaving). KNowing these muppets, they will expect us -- and the students -- to continue to come for face to face teaching as much as possible even during the exodus.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on November 12, 2020, 08:12:03 AM
Senior management here still aren't being clear about when we shift to online teaching only -- will it be literally just the last two days of the semester, or starting from 3 December (when the students can start leaving). KNowing these muppets, they will expect us -- and the students -- to continue to come for face to face teaching as much as possible even during the exodus.

and in Santa costume...

"Students drinking soft beverages not produced by Coca-Cola Corp. will face punishments ranging from on the spot fines to dismissal from The Programme.

Your SINCERELY

THE VICE CHANCELLOR"
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Sebastian Cobb on November 12, 2020, 10:00:15 PM
Looks like Manchester Uni has sent the filth in to intimidate the students there, even though they're not doing anything wrong.
https://twitter.com/netpol/status/1326984479076978699
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Bernice on November 12, 2020, 10:45:18 PM
I heard from a friend who works at Manchester Uni that the debacle with them putting fences up around halls to monitor comings and goings at a fixed entry/exit was done specifically to stop dealers dropping off in halls, so I imagine this is an extension of that.

Given that in normal times the entire student population of Manchester fucking loves to get on it (and the party lifestyle is definitely part of the draw for going there), it seems a) sisyphean and b) mean spirited to try and deny the poor fuckers their class As in the dorms when there is fuck all else to do.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on November 20, 2020, 02:23:51 PM
Just put my name down to help with our mass testing of students for Covid-19. I feel really sorry for the buggers and would like to help them get home for a bit of normality this Christmas.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on November 20, 2020, 11:29:45 PM
We've got a testing centre up and running at our uni which is gearing up to test all students before they head home for Christmas.

But it is getting very quiet on campus already. Management is not saying anything but it really seems like a lot of students have gone home and it really feels like the place does between terms.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Zetetic on November 21, 2020, 05:44:14 PM
We've got a testing centre up and running at our uni which is gearing up to test all students before they head home for Christmas.
LFT or PCR?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on November 21, 2020, 05:55:11 PM
LFT or PCR?

Embra will be using neither it seems, apparently we'll be using some kind of colourimetric testing kit for students' self-administered nose and throat swabs. Labelled RNA probes then.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on November 21, 2020, 07:03:29 PM

But it is getting very quiet on campus already. Management is not saying anything but it really seems like a lot of students have gone home and it really feels like the place does between terms.

Same here. The official announcement is that students in my faculty can go home on the 5th and 6th December, and then it's all online teaching from then (so a whole 3 or so days).

I'm in three days a week from 9 til 4, pretty much teaching online out of the classrooms. If I'm luck, I get maybe 2 or 3 students in the classroom, with anywhere from 10-50 online, depending on the class I'm teaching that hour.

Last week, I had no students at all actually come in for class, and the online sessions went really well (aside from me being a bit grumpy that I had to get up at 530 to haul arse to get a train to get there in time for the class, only to sit in a vast lecture hall all by myself for an hour). The other classes I had, scattered across the week, never had more than 3 actually turning up, and the rest online.

What stunned me was when once group all decided actually to turn on their cameras. I've been teaching to a wall of avatars all semester, so it was startling actually to see people.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on November 21, 2020, 07:11:16 PM
LFT or PCR?

M^ss testing is being seen as a failure by S8*e
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: pancreas on November 22, 2020, 12:25:32 AM
M^ss testing is being seen as a failure by S8*e

Tbf our local contrarian, Allyson Pollock is *very* against m^ss t^stes.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Zetetic on November 22, 2020, 11:47:01 AM
M^ss testing is being seen as a failure by S8*e

I'm not really sure why we're doing it in Merthyr, other than to be seen to be participating. Maybe it's some sort of act of fealty to DHSC?

Remarkably little discussion seems to have come out of Liverpool regarding the impact on PCR demand (given confirmatory tests), false positive LFTs and messaging etc. … let alone the actual impact on transmission.

(The data flows around all of this remain terrible, and that's not all England's fault, incidentally.)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on November 22, 2020, 12:48:23 PM
I'm not really sure why we're doing it in Merthyr, other than to be seen to be participating. Maybe it's some sort of act of fealty to DHSC?

Remarkably little discussion seems to have come out of Liverpool regarding the impact on PCR demand (given confirmatory tests), false positive LFTs and messaging etc. … let alone the actual impact on transmission.

(The data flows around all of this remain terrible, and that's not all England's fault, incidentally.)

ignore my PM about Merthyr...well apart from that tidbit.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on December 01, 2020, 07:27:51 AM
We finally make the move to online teaching only from the end of this week, as the university has acknowledged the government dictum about all students moving back home from the 3rd.

They're in the process of setting up testing stations on campus -- but have told students the tests are voluntary, and if they would just like to go home, that's fine. Meanwhile, management is still sending out emails to the students that no one is allowed to go online with their attendance until 3rd December unless they have special permission after providing evidence of their need to the dean and management.

Campus is a ghosttown -- I saw no more than a dozen students on Monday (had to teach four face to face sessions accross the day...meaning 1 or 2 in class, and the rest on Teams, as it's been for weeks).

I'm not even getting into the request sent round to teaching staff that they want us to 'volunteer' to help out with the testing.

As Mr Attila said, there isnt a sky high enough to fuck that one into.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on December 01, 2020, 07:40:19 AM
I'm not even getting into the request sent round to teaching staff that they want us to 'volunteer' to help out with the testing.

Fuck that indeed. I volunteered to help with our testing but Embra were at least trying to recruit volunteers who might know their way around a Class 3 biohazard facility.

Didn't get selected because we had over 1,500 eager nerds volunteer, so I'm just on standby in case they need extra pipetting hands on deck. No Heisenberg hazmat suit for me just yet.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on December 01, 2020, 08:40:06 AM
Fuck that indeed. I volunteered to help with our testing but Embra were at least trying to recruit volunteers who might know their way around a Class 3 biohazard facility.

Didn't get selected because we had over 1,500 eager nerds volunteer, so I'm just on standby in case they need extra pipetting hands on deck. No Heisenberg hazmat suit for me just yet.

PPE? For the Arts and the Humanities staff (these seem to be the faculties who received this request)

Ho ho ho.

I'm guessing they expect us to make due with the crappy hand sanitizer and super cheapo face shields they've provided us with (every member of staff received one face shield which fell apart after a couple of wears. They also gave us cheap branded face masks that were clearly designed with Rondo Hatton in mind.)

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on December 01, 2020, 09:44:24 AM
We got an email the other day saying they're adamant there will be some in-person teaching in the new year even if we are at the highest level of government restrictions. Online has been mostly fine and all of the problems were caused by the university's lateness in making the switch, there is absolutely no good reason for them to do this.

Although they're reluctant to let us teach online in the middle of a pandemic, they're also planning to move a lot of teaching online permanently so they can lay people off and sell off parts of our beautiful historic campus to property developers and the like. The guy at the top of the university is an absolute disgrace; his term is up next year and it really can't end quickly enough. One of our student newspapers published an absolute demolition job of an article about him yesterday, which was a delight to read.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on December 01, 2020, 09:57:52 AM
We got an email the other day saying they're adamant there will be some in-person teaching in the new year even if we are at the highest level of government restrictions. Online has been mostly fine and all of the problems were caused by the university's lateness in making the switch, there is absolutely no good reason for them to do this.


There's been no question that we will continue with 'blended learning' next semester, even though at this point, myself and many colleagues have been hitting up campus to teach 1 or 2 in the classroom and 25 online, several days a week.

No idea how to plan for next semester, as well, as the university plans a 'staggered start' but hasn't worked out what this means yet. There's also talk of a 'holiday break' week in the middle of the semester, taking a week from our usual 4 week spring break and plunking it down in late February or something.

Dreading seeing my timetable when it comes out later this week -- this semester has been wasting about 4 hours a day commuting to teach 0-2 students in the classroom for 45 minutes, four days a week, when other colleagues (who don't commute) seem to have had all of their classes clustered into two or even one long day. I've made requests to have my stuff more efficiently bunched up like this, but timetabling have said their priority is to accommodate the students, not us.

More fun is that even though we are now completely online, we can't combine 2 and 3 seminars to bring together module cohorts for the last meeting or two. It's been a right faff teaching the same seminar three times in a row to a bunch of avatars online who never speak up, with only one or two in the classroom gamely attempting to participate. Why on earth I can't just say to the students, 'Hey kids, everyone let's meet in the midday seminar group' so that at least I have one week where all the people who engage are in one place...(I have sent out sneaky emails to that extent, as have colleagues, who were immediately twatted and told that the timetable has to stay the way it is.)

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on December 01, 2020, 10:59:33 AM
There's been no question that we will continue with 'blended learning' next semester, even though at this point, myself and many colleagues have been hitting up campus to teach 1 or 2 in the classroom and 25 online, several days a week.

No idea how to plan for next semester, as well, as the university plans a 'staggered start' but hasn't worked out what this means yet. There's also talk of a 'holiday break' week in the middle of the semester, taking a week from our usual 4 week spring break and plunking it down in late February or something.

Dreading seeing my timetable when it comes out later this week -- this semester has been wasting about 4 hours a day commuting to teach 0-2 students in the classroom for 45 minutes, four days a week, when other colleagues (who don't commute) seem to have had all of their classes clustered into two or even one long day. I've made requests to have my stuff more efficiently bunched up like this, but timetabling have said their priority is to accommodate the students, not us.

More fun is that even though we are now completely online, we can't combine 2 and 3 seminars to bring together module cohorts for the last meeting or two. It's been a right faff teaching the same seminar three times in a row to a bunch of avatars online who never speak up, with only one or two in the classroom gamely attempting to participate. Why on earth I can't just say to the students, 'Hey kids, everyone let's meet in the midday seminar group' so that at least I have one week where all the people who engage are in one place...(I have sent out sneaky emails to that extent, as have colleagues, who were immediately twatted and told that the timetable has to stay the way it is.)




I've wondered about this, but we have an increasingly complicated structure where over 100 subject combinations are allowed in arts and humanities alone[1], so it might simply be a timetabling issue. I can't say I've had any issues with participation but based on what colleagues are saying, that's just exceptional good luck. Teaching assistants have had their hours cut to save money, so I'm barely teaching at all at the moment and the students I do have are doing really well.

For what it's worth, I don't think we will go with blended learning in the new year, but it's idiotic for them to be considering it when we look at how crap it's been elsewhere. Virtually every other university in the country has already committed to staying online for the upcoming term, it makes no sense. Also, what about students and staff who aren't even in Ireland at the moment, some of whom might not even have accommodation set up? The risks and logistical issues of that should be enough to put them off.
 1. this is going to double next year, despite the fact that we already have several combination that literally nobody is studying
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on December 01, 2020, 11:46:03 AM
I calculated how much unused annual leave I have remaining this year, and found it exceeds the number of days left.

So I've set up an auto-reply that says "fuck you" and told the exam board I ain't doing any marking till January. We'll see how that goes.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on December 01, 2020, 01:13:31 PM
Similar vibes here - while we planned both terms in one go, the University seems to think about 2 or 3 working weeks in advance, so they're only just hitting the 'how do we do exams' and 'how do we get students back to university' questions.

At every turn, the senior management really do disappoint.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on December 01, 2020, 01:20:33 PM
We have labs, so still running lab classes every. single. day. until Dec 9th. We've also got lab classes for the year that don't have exams in the January exam period, which has caused the higher ups some stress now that they've noticed it. I mean, I didn't TELL THEM back in June.

The helpful Corona virus dashboard tells me we have 7 students with +'ve tests in the last week and only 2 of them may have been on campus within 2 days of the results.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on December 01, 2020, 01:27:48 PM
Quite glad students are getting rinsed out of their money to be fair. Fuck em.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on December 01, 2020, 01:30:41 PM
Other online teaching has been hit and miss.

We have maths tutorials - the students that like it and find it useful are there every session. Some never turn up.

Project supervisions have gradually moved online but some are doing face to face still.

Looking at TP2 labs makes my heart stop. It's 10 straight weeks of back to back sessions for us to deliver.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on December 01, 2020, 06:42:30 PM
We're running classes until the middle of next week. There's a classroom near my office that had two classes today and it had about five students physically show up for both (which isn't bad based on the reduced capacity the room has).

The testing centre is up and running today and there are about 400-500 bookings each day this week so far. It's only for students so far, but I can book a test if I want one from the middle of next week. The plan is to carry on face to face teaching plus online next term. We've been lucky around here that the general infection rate in our area is low and has been since September.

Staff are only onsite if they absolutely have to - the building next to ours is busy as they're moving out to their brand spanking new building so we can rent their old one to the NHS for the next decade - and students are thin on the ground. It's getting even quieter and for the first time I've noticed a drop in rush-hour traffic in the morning.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on December 01, 2020, 10:41:50 PM
I calculated how much unused annual leave I have remaining this year, and found it exceeds the number of days left.

So I've set up an auto-reply that says "fuck you" and told the exam board I ain't doing any marking till January. We'll see how that goes.

I haven't taken any annual leave since mid-January. Ours is use-it-or-lose it, so I think I finished 2019/20 with something like 25 days left to me. None used so far this year, and I don't see me asking for any until maybe April? Even then, I may be turned down, because the university is now telling us that if we have a staggered start, we may end up losing a significant chunk of the four-week break in April to make up for it.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: MrT on December 01, 2020, 11:21:09 PM
I haven't taken any annual leave since mid-January. Ours is use-it-or-lose it, so I think I finished 2019/20 with something like 25 days left to me. None used so far this year, and I don't see me asking for any until maybe April?

Hi, I don't know if this helps, in the same position, no leave allowed and no let up likely before Easter - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rules-on-carrying-over-annual-leave-to-be-relaxed-to-support-key-industries-during-covid-19
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on December 02, 2020, 07:20:10 AM
Hi, I don't know if this helps, in the same position, no leave allowed and no let up likely before Easter - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rules-on-carrying-over-annual-leave-to-be-relaxed-to-support-key-industries-during-covid-19

Cheers!

I don't think I count as a key worker, though. The university has added a bunch of extra leave days, telling us we can have extra days, plus we're allowed to rollover more...but it's pretty useless when then they won't let anyone actually take them.

I tried to take about 10 days in December after the semester ended, but was actually asked, 'Do you think you'll have all of your marking done before you go?'

Well, no, because usually assignments that come in during the final week don't need to be marked until the first week of the new semester. But now senior management wants us to be returning assignments over the xmas period itself because as we all know, students are keen to read their essay results on Christmas morning.

I've gone on 2-3 days mini breaks in the week immediately after the end of autumn term for about 25 years now, just to blow off steam; this is the first time ever that I've been denied that time off.

I figure I'm going to be working like a maniac straight through the xmas break anyway, since I've got to re-write/restructure all of the modules I'm teaching in the spring, all of the marking, and plus I've got to read two dissertations over the break for a couple of viva exams that fall in late January. As far as I'm concerned, 'Christmas break' just means I don't have to commute for about 3 weeks or so and have more time to work on all of this stuff.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on December 02, 2020, 11:06:41 AM
My decision to back off workwise for the rest of the year is motivated by the fact that I'm so tired that I keep making mistakes. It's already quite liberating - feel better already!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on December 02, 2020, 12:48:14 PM
Us Embra peeps can carry over ten days of annual leave to 2021 apparently.

I also have a stupid amount of annual leave left despite having been back in the lab since June, so I have also decided to sack the rest of the year off. I spent most of the weekend sitting behind a microscope and finished the last of my lab werk on Monday. Barring Zoooooom meetings that's it for my 2020. Feels good.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on December 02, 2020, 02:48:10 PM

I also have a stupid amount of annual leave left despite having been back in the lab since June, so I have also decided to sack the rest of the year off. I spent most of the weekend sitting behind a microscope and finished the last of my lab werk on Monday. Barring Zoooooom meetings that's it for my 2020. Feels good.

Envious! We have two more weeks of teaching, then are expected to be oncall up to 23rd December for meetings, student drafts, student emails.

I have been in Teams meetings for the past 5 hours -- absolutely nothing useful, and I have a fuckton of marking I could have been doing, or working on my next-semester classes.

We were told that the university hasn't decided yet how we're going to return in spring semester, so not to plan any weekly classwork until January...um, considering how much work each one of my class meetings has been thanks to this blended-learning wheeze, I am NOT going to wait til mid-January to put my weekly class stuff together....

I'm in a meeting right now, being 'trained' to do something I've already been 'trained' in -- and the person leading the meeting does not have her notification jingle turned off. It is making me twitch, hearing that little jingle over and over again....
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on December 02, 2020, 07:51:44 PM
I actually did some face to face today with first year students. They seem remarkably cheerful, all things considered, but are aching for more in person classes. Had to explain that even if the government announced a change of rules tomorrow, it would take several months to reconfigure all the spaces, timetables etc.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on December 03, 2020, 07:27:49 AM
My 2nd and 3rd Year students really miss proper face-to-face meetings...I've had several of them show up to the classroom even on weeks when they aren't rota'd in and should be on Teams, asking if they can attend live. Considering that so many others either just go to Teams (or have stopped coming all together), if there was room, I'd let them in.

The best session I had all semester was when I combined the few students in one seminar for a Year 2 module with the few students in the other -- proper discussion and debate, and the time flew by. There are 30 students on the module, so timetabling divided it in half. Maybe 4 came to the first one (out of 15) and 2 or 3 to the second, with a handful on Teams -- I'd say that more than 1/2 of that module cohort has never come to class or dialled in to Teams. It also really shows on the absolutely shitty assignments I've been getting from the absentees, as well.

My big 3rd module is this morning, all on Teams now. I'm hoping some of them turn on their cameras -- but I don't expect it.

We had a dept meeting yesterday discussing how students have been reacting to Teams and that, and a number of colleagues were in competition for who had the student who stayed on Teams the longest after the actually class meeting had ended (you know, they dial in, no camera, no mike, and obviously figure, 'Well, I'll just have to remember to log out after an hour...and then they forget). I think the winner was someone with a student in the Teams room 3 hours after the session had ended.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on December 03, 2020, 07:37:58 AM
Can I join your teams?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on December 03, 2020, 08:40:18 AM
I think anyone who's dialled in (either from the class register, or if I dial someone in (if they have a Teams account, like a guest speaker) can join in.

Don't tempt me :D
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on December 03, 2020, 10:11:22 AM
Only a single session across three modules delivered remotely. Actually a great teaching term. Coronovirs done wonders for attendance.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on December 03, 2020, 10:18:09 AM
As far as I know we aren't even meant to be taking attendance but for what it's worth, I didn't have a single absence in a whole term of online teaching. I've been teaching a minimal number of tutorials because the university doesn't want to pay teaching assistants much any more but that's still quite something.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on December 23, 2020, 05:41:48 PM
I know it’s the holidays but has anyone heard any plans for operating under Tier 4? On Monday my uni said it was still planning to do the phased return of students through January. They’ve also said in the past they’ve kept back around £50m reserves to cover any second lockdown.

Tier 4 going England-wide seems inevitable, has any higher education facility revealed any plans? Or are they still saying (publicly at least) that the student return plan is still going ahead?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on December 23, 2020, 09:48:27 PM
No return in January or ever - everyone will be dead!!!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on December 26, 2020, 05:17:27 PM
I know it’s the holidays but has anyone heard any plans for operating under Tier 4? On Monday my uni said it was still planning to do the phased return of students through January. They’ve also said in the past they’ve kept back around £50m reserves to cover any second lockdown.

Tier 4 going England-wide seems inevitable, has any higher education facility revealed any plans? Or are they still saying (publicly at least) that the student return plan is still going ahead?

Official rules are that we go ahead as planned, with the staggered start over January.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on December 27, 2020, 10:18:10 AM
Official rules are that we go ahead as planned, with the staggered start over January.

That was the last message from our senior management (of course it was sent at 1655 on Christmas eve); we're told to 'stay tuned' for the official plan and policy which will be sent to us 4 January. But every indication is chaotic staggered start and hybrid/blended learning again for this semester.

We're supposed to have 4 January off, but looks as if we're meant to be back at work/on call now instead because of covid 'preparations' for the semester.


Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on December 27, 2020, 12:05:54 PM
my laptops died and I've only got 60 credits of teaching to deliver this year. Brilliant.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Zetetic on January 06, 2021, 07:07:38 PM
Rent strikes then, which is nice.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on January 19, 2021, 01:04:50 PM
Other online teaching has been hit and miss.

We have maths tutorials - the students that like it and find it useful are there every session. Some never turn up.

Project supervisions have gradually moved online but some are doing face to face still.

Looking at TP2 labs makes my heart stop. It's 10 straight weeks of back to back sessions for us to deliver.

or not.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on January 21, 2021, 08:30:22 PM
We’ve finally admitted we’re online only for the rest of the semester.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on January 21, 2021, 08:50:38 PM
I'm actually not allowed to discuss our plans :/
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on January 21, 2021, 08:52:22 PM
I'm actually not allowed to discuss our plans :/

NDA?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on January 21, 2021, 10:08:11 PM
I'm actually not allowed to discuss our plans :/

I wasn’t sure that I wasn’t but since it was on the front page of the local newspaper...
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on January 21, 2021, 10:13:30 PM
Ours isn’t committing to staying online beyond February, but the chance of them coming back before Easter is virtually nil.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on January 22, 2021, 07:29:05 AM
Mine is absolutely insisting that we will be back in the classroom from mid-February (and we've also been warned of more redundancy culls in the summer if we -- that is staff -- don't get application number ups and acceptences of offers firmed up. Some of the current initiatives are absolutely mental related to applications on the one hand, and student rentention on the other).

So far, with classes being 100% online rather than the hybrid stuff, I have had really good attendance and engagement in my seminars. Sure, I have to do a bit more in terms of sending emails and stuff to the various module cohorts every week to keep them on track, but this week, our first full-on week of work/discussion/workshops, has seen for me some of the best groups discussions since I was doing stuff completely in the classroom.

I will be very happy to go back to face to face tutorials when the time comes (I find call after call on Teams for tutorials gets exhausting -- I have three hours' of tutorials mandatory for one of my fresher modules to slog through this morning), but yeah, it's such a marked difference to have everyone online rather than trying to deal with online students and students in the classroom at the same time.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on January 22, 2021, 07:27:13 PM
Yip. Bi-mode is madness and we made a decision not to do that early on. Hours-wise it was a little more work, as we had to run a couple of extra online sessions for those who couldn’t come to the in-person ones. But I would rather do two hours where I can interact meaningfully with a single group rather than a single hour failing to interact with either.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on January 22, 2021, 09:47:28 PM
Extraordinarily, things are going okay here. It was decided early in the month that the whole semester would be online, but essential library and lab services are being allowed to operate on a limited basis. This is the least they could do, of course, but the incompetence of the people in charge is so great that we're almost led to feel grateful.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on February 24, 2021, 03:12:22 PM
We're resuming f-2-f on 8th March, except our group told management to fuck off, so we won't.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on February 24, 2021, 03:42:37 PM
In person classes starting in September for me in a “phased approach” (assuming I get accepted to this specialized research MA). All online until then.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on February 24, 2021, 06:53:41 PM
In person classes starting in September for me in a “phased approach” (assuming I get accepted to this specialized research MA). All online until then.

Pray tell, what is this specialised research? (why the N. American spelling - you're losing touch).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on February 24, 2021, 09:47:35 PM
Pray tell, what is this specialised research? (why the N. American spelling - you're losing touch).

Masters in public health; my focus would be on neighbourhood and societal cohesion.

Is there money in that? There best be or I’m snookered.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Blue Jam on February 24, 2021, 10:33:40 PM
Masters in public health; my focus would be on neighbourhood and societal cohesion.

Is there money in that? There best be or I’m snookered.

Sounds suitably 'viddy, go for it.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on February 24, 2021, 10:55:33 PM
Yeah exactly, and to be honest I was joking about money. If I felt I was doing something good in the world at the end of it, that’s enough - I’ve worked solely for money and detested it, will never do that again.

Sorry for derailing the thread.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on February 24, 2021, 10:57:40 PM
Masters in public health; my focus would be on neighbourhood and societal cohesion.

Is there money in that? There best be or I’m snookered.

Yep, there will be a job for you in the new gov department we are tentatively setting up around public health and environment and society
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on February 24, 2021, 11:00:05 PM
Yep, there will be a job for you in the new gov department we are tentatively setting up around public health and environment and society

Will keep you in mind when the job suitors come knocking in a few years!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: drummersaredeaf on February 25, 2021, 02:01:59 AM
Social cohesion? Sounds a lot like that Cultural Marxism thing to me.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on April 04, 2021, 10:39:23 AM
Just wondering how the academic CaBbers (acacabbers? cabademics?) are getting on.

Our term ended on Friday, just in time for restrictions to relax on Monday. At least this will avoid another inevitable tussle between the union and the university, which then fizzles out because our university has (some perplexing management decisions notwithstanding) generally taken a fairly sensible approach to the whole thing.

One of the advantages of starting so obscenely early in September and January (relative to everywhere else) is that we're done and dusted by the end of March. That is, apart from teaching-related activities like project marking, exam marking, exam boards, special circumstances, course monitoring, MSc projects, course development, resits, resit boards, progression interviews, all of which conspire to make it very difficult to take any time off over the summer. I was very fortunate in having all my teaching front-loaded into the first semester - nevertheless looking at my diary I see the odd week where I was spending upwards of 12 hours in meetings relating to teaching. A side effect of administration and meetings all moving online is that people seem to be increasingly assuming that if you have an afternoon in your diary without a meeting scheduled in it, that means you have no other work to be getting on with and you're fair game to have something slapped into a space where you'd hoped to work on a paper or to give some PhD students a bit of quality time that's been sorely lacking.

Students seem to be working hard and managing to learn stuff and do decent project work. However they seem to be under a lot of strain. I think this whole episode has made clear what a campus is actually for: a surprising amount gets lost by students not being able to interact casually with each other and staff, one consequence of which is that they don't feel confident about what they are supposed to be focussing on, what's the essential stuff, what's the frills around the edges and so on. Online hasn't been all bad - one thing we've found is that the medium has levelled the playing-field when it comes to students asking questions in lectures, and these are no longer the preserve of the super-confident know-all student who likes hearing their voice reverberating around a 300-seater lecture theatre and not giving a fuck about how much that annoys everyone else. But pretty much everything else is more stressful and time-consuming in the online format, mostly because the technology is shit and lets you down the whole time.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on April 04, 2021, 02:00:33 PM
NDA?

Well now we've got through it, the University didn't want us telling students how likely it would be we'd be back on campus.

March 8th, we returned to labs anyway. Turns out Norn Iron unis hadn't closed them :/

Long, long slog of a term but through it. Online exams all ready to go. Will happily never give an online lecture ever again.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on April 04, 2021, 02:03:24 PM
Just wondering how the academic CaBbers (acacabbers? cabademics?) are getting on.

Our term ended on Friday, just in time for restrictions to relax on Monday. At least this will avoid another inevitable tussle between the union and the university, which then fizzles out because our university has (some perplexing management decisions notwithstanding) generally taken a fairly sensible approach to the whole thing.

One of the advantages of starting so obscenely early in September and January (relative to everywhere else) is that we're done and dusted by the end of March. That is, apart from teaching-related activities like project marking, exam marking, exam boards, special circumstances, course monitoring, MSc projects, course development, resits, resit boards, progression interviews, all of which conspire to make it very difficult to take any time off over the summer. I was very fortunate in having all my teaching front-loaded into the first semester - nevertheless looking at my diary I see the odd week where I was spending upwards of 12 hours in meetings relating to teaching. A side effect of administration and meetings all moving online is that people seem to be increasingly assuming that if you have an afternoon in your diary without a meeting scheduled in it, that means you have no other work to be getting on with and you're fair game to have something slapped into a space where you'd hoped to work on a paper or to give some PhD students a bit of quality time that's been sorely lacking.

Students seem to be working hard and managing to learn stuff and do decent project work. However they seem to be under a lot of strain. I think this whole episode has made clear what a campus is actually for: a surprising amount gets lost by students not being able to interact casually with each other and staff, one consequence of which is that they don't feel confident about what they are supposed to be focussing on, what's the essential stuff, what's the frills around the edges and so on. Online hasn't been all bad - one thing we've found is that the medium has levelled the playing-field when it comes to students asking questions in lectures, and these are no longer the preserve of the super-confident know-all student who likes hearing their voice reverberating around a 300-seater lecture theatre and not giving a fuck about how much that annoys everyone else. But pretty much everything else is more stressful and time-consuming in the online format, mostly because the technology is shit and lets you down the whole time.

I've re-realised that I'm just not an academic and it being totally online isn't really good for me as I dont really know what I'm meant to be doing. Obviously I'm an outlier as I'm generally a bit useless and OU is usually in a classroom but I'm not loving it. I reckon people would like the freedom though.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on April 04, 2021, 02:16:26 PM
The biggest thing for me was the massive increase in responsibility. We're a shared department so most of the focus was on the other, larger, course. I run exams and assessments anyway and make the smaller course course tickover, but it has just been every week, a new thing. Then again, I met the minister for universities, which was nice.

The day I sent the email returning our students to campus - emotional moment actually.

I think we've done a sterling team job. One of the things that always killed me inside about academia was how it was never a team effort. But this year was.

Quote
Students seem to be working hard and managing to learn stuff and do decent project work. However they seem to be under a lot of strain. I think this whole episode has made clear what a campus is actually for: a surprising amount gets lost by students not being able to interact casually with each other and staff, one consequence of which is that they don't feel confident about what they are supposed to be focussing on, what's the essential stuff, what's the frills around the edges and so on. Online hasn't been all bad - one thing we've found is that the medium has levelled the playing-field when it comes to students asking questions in lectures, and these are no longer the preserve of the super-confident know-all student who likes hearing their voice reverberating around a 300-seater lecture theatre and not giving a fuck about how much that annoys everyone else. But pretty much everything else is more stressful and time-consuming in the online format, mostly because the technology is shit and lets you down the whole time.

Very similar here, especially the second and third sentence. On Wednesday, I had a job down in the teaching labs to do and bumped into the second years. Just a quick chat but you could tell they were missing that social interaction.

We had a clear delineation in online behaviour by cohort. The larger course Year 2s were busy and hard work, while rarely turning up to sessions. Our third years would not talk during lectures - absolute silence - but outside of lectures, when one on one, chatted away. I put that down to nerves about it being close to the end. 
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on April 04, 2021, 08:25:27 PM
I’d say it’s been more of a team effort - particularly at first when no-one really had any idea of how to deliver the curriculum. Things seem to be more back to normal now with people sitting on their hands and hoping someone else picks up the job they don’t want to do. That said, we’re all burnt out so there’s a lot more understanding if you say “I’m sorry I just don’t have the time or headspace to do that. 
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Poobum on April 04, 2021, 09:17:29 PM

I think this whole episode has made clear what a campus is actually for: a surprising amount gets lost by students not being able to interact casually with each other and staff

Absolutely this, coming from the perspective of someone on year one. Our course Facebook group has been full of despair of just not knowing how to even begin a project, not helped by how clunky it is for us that do know to explain over fractured messages. I don't know what level people should be at when starting a course (I'm doing an Animal Bio bachelors) but I was shocked that the majority didn't know how to write a lab report or an academic essay. The university has been quite glacial in reacting to feedback, and we were in the weird position of having a tutorial on referencing after we'd already handed in two assignments. I definitely think the universities policy of sticking stuff online and hoping students will find it was a bit misguided.

I got very pissed off with my fellow students. They gave very bad feedback to a lecturer who had done a great job, including putting on extra sessions and uploading example papers and going through them. They seemed pissed off that he wasn't telling what to write whilst doing fuck all to help themselves, despite me and another couple of students putting on extra team sessions for group chats, (which the fucking moaners didn't bother signing into) and repeatedly linking them to resources. Learnt the skill of biting my tongue, as I keep reminding myself I'm not dealing with the financial and family pressures a lot of them are going through.

On the whole, I think the lecturers have been heroic, a charismatic and helpful bunch, and from talking to friends it's not necessarily the norm. Had great fun having gaming sessions with em, was very happy to murder my Animal Management lecturer in Among us.

Personally the main part of uni for me was meeting new people and capitalizing on improving my mental health enough to be socializing and building friendships and what have you, though I'm about 10-15 years older than everyone. Academically, even I have to admit I've been smashing it, mid-firsts on everything as yet, and that's helped me connect with the others by being confident enough to offer advice.

Had the weird and quite nice situation where I was the only one turning up for animal management practicals, so I ended up having personalized lessons where the lecturer was basically, "you might as well handle all the animals". Fed a hedgehog, hugged a chinchilla, walked a donkey, grimace scored a lemming, handled a Chilean rose tarantula, and had a bosc monitor shit on me, which was hilarious and the worst smelling I've ever been. All in all a strange year that has flown past, but worthwhile whilst terrifying.

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on April 05, 2021, 08:55:50 AM
It's really interesting to hear that perspective.

I think it's fair to say that the existing online systems, which were always an adjunct to the live in-person stuff, weren't really designed for delivering entire degree programmes at scale. I know my own course website ended up being "a mound of stuff that we hope the students manage to find", partly because it's a patchwork of different systems (discussion boards, lecture recordings, live sessions, live audience response and hand-in assignments all live in different systems where are sort of glued together into a common front end, but only just), partly because we were instructed to follow a common template "to make it easier for students to find things" (but because there's no one-size fits all when it comes to course structures, doesn't always work) and partly because we couldn't rely on students having sufficiently reliable connections that we needed static content as a back-up. Before you know it you have an impossibly large and unnavigable site. I had some additional problems with my tutorials all being stretched out through the week (due to social distancing) rather than happening on the same day (as in the past) - this contributed to desynchronisation between students additional to the consequences of not being able to talk to each other so easily. If we end up with a similar-looking timetable next year (and I hope we don't), I do have some ideas on how to fix this.

I hear what you're saying about the transactional mindset that some students have. I guess having a bit of time away and coming in with a broader perspective you can see what's to be gained by bringing something of your own to the party. And it sounds like you've spotted that you're pushing at an open door when it comes to that: there's nothing that an academic likes more than someone who's genuinely interested in the subject and wants to learn for the hell of it (as long you don't end up stalking us). A lot of what I end up doing in 1st year teaching is trying to gently deprogram strategies that are highly optimised to pass school exams, but have little value in the context of a degree education. It's an unpleasant experience for everyone, but I've noticed that something tends to click in 3rd year and people start becoming more self-sufficient. (This is in Scotland, where there's an extra year at the start; maybe it kicks in in Y2 down south).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on April 05, 2021, 09:06:14 AM
Quote
It's really interesting to hear that perspective.

yeah second that. cheers.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on April 05, 2021, 09:33:42 AM
Teaching has actually gone quite well this term. The students have been great, and have clearly put so much effort in. I recently found out I teach someone who's stuck on the west coast of the US and because of scheduling conflicts, is stuck in my tutorial that is held at 4am her time. She always shows up and has insightful and interesting things to say at a time of day when most of us would be catatonic.

Research has finally hit a hitch, in that I majorly need a book that isn't available online and that I can't buy (it's from the 1920s and there's no copies for sale anywhere). According to Worldcat, there are two copies in the whole country - one in my university library and the other in the National Library, which is closed. We were previously able to waltz in and just take books from the library shelves provided we had a booking, but this particular library is closed. Ordinarily, they would happily go and get it and leave it at the counter or send it in the post but this also happens to be a reference book that can't be borrowed, so after the bank holiday, I'm going to have to beg some librarians to comb through it for the very specific (scattered) bits I'm looking for to scan them.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on April 05, 2021, 10:12:56 AM
That's a bummer. I'm in a field where - even in normal times - if it's not online, it basically doesn't exist. We're far too lazy to faff around with libraries. That said, I've been working on some revisions to a paper recently where I really could have used the ability to waltz into the library and leaf through some textbooks. I'm left almost quoting from memory as things stand...
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on April 05, 2021, 10:30:38 AM
That's a bummer. I'm in a field where - even in normal times - if it's not online, it basically doesn't exist. We're far too lazy to faff around with libraries. That said, I've been working on some revisions to a paper recently where I really could have used the ability to waltz into the library and leaf through some textbooks. I'm left almost quoting from memory as things stand...

This is the difference, that my field is by no means as heavily digital, to the extent that my department is actually quite technophobic. My supervisor isn't like that at all and even has a foot in the digital humanities and all that; he told me that when he joined (probably 10-15 years ago), all the department's communications were in comic sans. We have a legal deposit library so to some extent, there's been a bit of naivety about accessing resources, because we should theoretically have access to anything that's published here, albeit with most new books only coming in as e-books that have to be accessed on site.

That said, this book is an outlier for my own work. Most of the older material I've required has been easy to find online, and people have been very helpful with sharing things that they have scans of. It just happens that the book I need is a very specific edition and the only digital copies are earlier or later. I wouldn't envy anyone who does a lot of work with manuscripts and older physical books at this time.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: dr beat on April 05, 2021, 04:42:36 PM
I'm currently taking a couple of weeks off.  Much-needed, although I say this as I still need to work on an application and want to catch up on some writing, but I'm very much putting emailing, meetings, marking etc to one side.  I've been very busy this term putting together several new lectures.  Over the last couple of years I've had to fight to keep my module going due to departmental politics.
So I have felt quite worn out at times, but then I find Feb/March the most challenging time of the academic year anyway.  As well as being a busy teaching period, students are starting to get anxious about deadlines and their degree in general, marking is piling up etc etc.  And its still cold and wet out.

I also totally agree with greencalx about the role of the campus and how it facilitates those casual but very important interactions between students.  I've been concerned that the level of work hasn't been quite as strong as previous years and whether its because students haven't been able to compare notes and chat about how they are approaching their work with each other.  However I've not had too much bother with meetings, if anything for us going online might have helped people think more carefully about how their time is best used.  But then most of the really pointless meetings tend to come at the behest of those outside of the department but elsewhere within the Uni, and those people have been notable by their silence.

Also thanks for your insights Poobum
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on April 18, 2021, 11:33:14 AM
Not sure how related to Covid it is, but we've had direction from above to completely redesign all our courses towards a more blended online/on-campus delivery. The numbers and timeline that they've put in place are ludicrously tight and there's a proper sense of 'you lot should just deal with it' about communications.

So, in the last four years

*rewrite course and all modules from 10/20 credits per module to 15/30
*adjust that to get both courses accredited
*rewrite entire course for covid-affected online delivery
*rewrite all modules - again - for blended delivery
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on April 18, 2021, 01:56:41 PM
Is that for next year?

I have a feeling some managers think that hybrid is a long-term model that will allow them to take in fees without having to shell out for expensive lecture theatres and the like. I’m not aware of our management making similar noises (though big classes look unlikely to return to in-person any time soon). There seems to be a consensus, even among the upper echelons, that hybrid is not as good except, possibly, for those students who actively want it.

The conversations I’ve been in have been more along the lines of “here’s some good things that we didn’t expect / have the gumption to do before that we’d like to keep doing if we can”. Completely online submission of work and marking is one those - might seem odd to those used to essay-based courses, but in subjects like maths and physics this is nontrivial but we’ve worked out how to do it now. This year I had way more students handing in work than last. This may have been because they had nothing else to do, but I also wonder whether not having to drag your arse into the department to hand it in had something to do with it. Will be interesting to see if it holds up next year.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on April 18, 2021, 04:14:49 PM
Quote
Is that for next year?

In theory, yes. In practice, there's no chance. We're in the middle of rolling out the structure change, so our 3rd year modules will only be running for 1 more year in their current form. I am not having staff change them for only 1 year.

I also just don't know how we're going to do it yet. We have lab hours mandated by the accrediting body. Those can't be touched. Every module needs to change, really, so we introduce a totally different culture of how we teach. To staff and students.

Difficult.

So yeah, I don't see the benefit, I don't see how we make it happen and I don't see how we make it work starting in September. Happy times.

Quote
I have a feeling some managers think that hybrid is a long-term model that will allow them to take in fees without having to shell out for expensive lecture theatres and the like. I’m not aware of our management making similar noises (though big classes look unlikely to return to in-person any time soon). There seems to be a consensus, even among the upper echelons, that hybrid is not as good except, possibly, for those students who actively want it.

This was on the radar for some time - backed with large investment in the IT facilities etc.

Quote
The conversations I’ve been in have been more along the lines of “here’s some good things that we didn’t expect / have the gumption to do before that we’d like to keep doing if we can”. Completely online submission of work and marking is one those - might seem odd to those used to essay-based courses, but in subjects like maths and physics this is nontrivial but we’ve worked out how to do it now. This year I had way more students handing in work than last. This may have been because they had nothing else to do, but I also wonder whether not having to drag your arse into the department to hand it in had something to do with it. Will be interesting to see if it holds up next year.

Similar here. One big one was 'prelabs' - short bits of work, together with the necessary COSHH forms, that try to get the students to engage with practicals before attending. These moving online save us 30 minutes + at the start of the session as the students queue up to get in. One or two brighter staff have semi-automated the marking. Streamlined.

Second aspect is better use of tools within the lectures - learner response, videos, animations. Everyone has had a crack at including something. We've all bought drawpads so can write direct on powerpoints as we deliver, which is very useful. We plan to have videos of all our practicals ready for next year, so students can go back after the session to see any missed steps/harder aspects.

Certain meetings have been massively streamlined online - exam moderation for example, where we all peer-review the other papers within the department.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on April 18, 2021, 05:51:28 PM
Ah right! There were rumblings our way when this all started of taking the opportunity to move to a radically new / modern / (whispers) cheaper delivery medium, but I think the students have been firm enough about how much they prefer it the old-fashioned way that it seems that common sense has prevailed. Although, there is a curriculum revamp upcoming, so the road ahead remains rocky.

And kind of annoying to have such things thrust upon you when, as you've also described, it's not like we're being stick-in-the-muds. Digitising the more "admin-ny" part of the lab so you can make more use of the bench time seems very sensible, and the kind of thing that those of us who actually have to do this stuff can get our teeth stuck into and some degree of satisfaction from. Repackaging the existing curriculum to fit into new boxes created by people who don't encounter students very often, not so much.

Meetings are a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the electronic forum can improve their operation somewhat - the main thing is that the text chat makes it easier to contribute a small observation without disturbing the flow of the main meeting, and people giving the 'thumbs up' to suggestions means that more good ideas with support get exposed than in the conventional format. On the other hand, it's become too easy for people to schedule meetings - particularly those whose entire job function seems to be attending meetings.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on April 18, 2021, 05:59:37 PM
oddly, and perhaps more so given I've a solid departmental role, I have not had the Great Meeting Wave that colleagues have experienced and that you just described.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on May 17, 2021, 09:02:11 PM
Got a place on my MA for September, found out this morning[1]

First term (September-december) looks like it’s going to be optional virtual/in-person. Does that seem very conservative to anyone else? I live about 10 minutes walk away from university so I’ll be there (unless I feel lazy and fancy staying in my pyjamas and dialling in). Wondering if that’s the norm from anyone else’s experience?

Also my acceptance/offer letter says I’m “recommended by [school & department] to be accepted onto XYZ program starting September 2021” pending acceptance by the faculty of graduate studies. What does that mean? It sounds like the school/department has accepted me but has to run it by the university first - is that normal? Am I in or what? I suspect I am (you don’t start letters with congratulations and matriculation info if you’re going to reject someone) but I’m really unfamiliar with the hierarchy. Maybe it changes from university to university...
 1. relieved more than pleased/excited because I’d be in the shit otherwise (or at best, making do with something I wasn’t really interested in and trying to do a sidestep at some point)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on May 17, 2021, 09:11:30 PM
Re the second point, best to confirm with the department that this is a formality. I expect it is. Universities are stuffed full of committees that do nothing other than rubber stamp decisions other people have already made and weirdly take several hours over it. It may be that the “faculty” needs to formally approve your entry qualifications or some such.

Regarding the first point, it’s very much up in the air. Universities don’t get a heads up from the government about what they plan to do next in terms of easing restrictions so everyone is making it up as they go along. Some are keen to get bums back onto seats ASAP, others are being more cautious. I was in a meeting last week with people from neighbouring universities and it became clear that we were working to very different planning assumptions. If there’s likely to be a sizeable cohort of international students on your programme, that could push towards a hybrid model as there may be students who physically can’t get into the country when it starts.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on May 17, 2021, 09:40:17 PM
Hadn’t thought of the international students element - the course is geared towards domestic Canadian politics and civil service careers (which require you to be a citizen) so suspect there’s not a huge amount of international uptake because it is niche both on topic and usefulness for non-Canadians.

Interesting to hear that there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on in person stuff, I assumed all the big wigs and head boffins would have got together and agreed one way or the other.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: dr beat on May 18, 2021, 11:27:21 AM
Re the second point, best to confirm with the department that this is a formality. I expect it is. Universities are stuffed full of committees that do nothing other than rubber stamp decisions other people have already made and weirdly take several hours over it. It may be that the “faculty” needs to formally approve your entry qualifications or some such.


I very much second this.  Only thing to add Ferris is that you could perhaps enquire when you might expect to hear the decision.  The relevant committee may not have met yet.

Regarding teaching planning for next year, it seems that the messages coming from on high at our place currently changes from day to day.  I'm trying to ignore it and just cross those bridges when we get there in October.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on May 18, 2021, 11:42:27 AM
I very much second this.  Only thing to add Ferris is that you could perhaps enquire when you might expect to hear the decision.  The relevant committee may not have met yet.

Regarding teaching planning for next year, it seems that the messages coming from on high at our place currently changes from day to day.  I'm trying to ignore it and just cross those bridges when we get there in October.

I re-read the letter - they’re mandating teaching is remote actually, but there will be in-person events for people who live downtown. Another few months in pyjamas for your boy Ferris!

Cheers yeah I’m assuming it’s a formality (but obviously no one on their side can admit it’s a formality otherwise the con’s been rumbled!) so I’ll just hang on, appreciate the responses though. I emailed the department after greencalx suggested it, they reckon I’ll have a “final” decision inside a week so that’s gotta be a rubber stamp job. A quick search on reddit suggests the same for people who have already gone through the process, but it’s not great for my anxiety. Why not just wait the extra few days and tell me when it’s final?!

I’ve been working towards this degree for quite a few years at this point - I decided to do it in 2016 (I remember discussing it with my wife on our honeymoon), started explicitly saving for it 2 years ago, resigned from my job, moved cities, enrolled as a non-degree undergrad student to do prep courses with no guarantee of anything etc etc. It’s been a very long road and being so close... but not quite there yet... ugh. Hopefully not long now.

Sorry, I know this isn’t the “ooh ferris is going to school!” thread, I’m just venting. Ignore.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on May 18, 2021, 11:48:40 AM
For the lols though, I’m doing a degree that wikipedia reckons can make me head of HS Art

(https://i.imgur.com/lJR4RgL.jpg)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on May 18, 2021, 12:33:54 PM
Cheers yeah I’m assuming it’s a formality (but obviously no one on their side can admit it’s a formality otherwise the con’s been rumbled!) so I’ll just hang on, appreciate the responses though. I emailed the department after greencalx suggested it, they reckon I’ll have a “final” decision inside a week so that’s gotta be a rubber stamp job. A quick search on reddit suggests the same for people who have already gone through the process, but it’s not great for my anxiety. Why not just wait the extra few days and tell me when it’s final?!

Yeah, universities are really shit for this. Mostly a decision is made by someone close to the action, but then needs to be referred up a hierarchy of committees for rubber stamping. It's not always clear what this achieves. For example, after a PhD viva the two examiners basically determine the outcome there and then, but reports have to be written, signed off, passed to the relevant PG committee for authorisation of the award, although the award isn't then formally made until approved by senate which happens at the next graduation, which is months down the line, and comprises those members of senate in the graduation procession saying "aye", so really worth delaying. In practice, the letter that comes a few days after the exam is the point of no return but it's very frustrating for people who need Dr in front of their name in order to take up a job (or, in some cases, get paid properly). In your case I do wonder why they can't just wait a few more days, as you say. I know it's tough but I really wouldn't worry about it - I've never heard of any committee ever block a recommendation from someone at the coal face. I once examined a PhD in Germany. There, they tear a certificate off a roll, sign it and hand it to the candidate straight after the exam.

The academic promotion cycle takes nine months to complete.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on May 18, 2021, 12:47:42 PM
Blimey - and I thought my old firm was bad. It was at least largely functional (sort of).

The uni models themselves after Edinburgh (no idea why, think it was founded by a graduate or something) so I’m happy to blame them for all this.

(Again - sorry to derail the thread.)
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on May 18, 2021, 02:02:00 PM
Interesting to hear that there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on in person stuff, I assumed all the big wigs and head boffins would have got together and agreed one way or the other.

I went to a Head of Departments' meeting with my subject's professional accrediting body earlier in  the year.

Practically every department had interpreted the government instructions on what constituted practicals with specialist equipment (which were allowed on-campus from Jan. to March) differently. Norn Iron unis had basically run a full set of all practicals to all years.

In terms of research projects, some departments had not planned for off-campus research and were still hoping to get students back in the labs. We were the only department in the subject area to plan to deliver off-campus research projects from the off.

tldr: yeah, no consensus and some almighty bollox dropped.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on May 18, 2021, 02:06:39 PM
Quote
The academic promotion cycle takes nine months to complete.

Yes.

And the last time I went through it, the results were decided 2 months in.

That said, last years promotions were lolz. "In light of the uncertain times, they won't get the payrise for a year".
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on May 18, 2021, 03:42:48 PM
The uni models themselves after Edinburgh (no idea why, think it was founded by a graduate or something) so I’m happy to blame them for all this.

Ha! Dare I say it, but judging by the general chitchat with colleagues from other universities (including on here), Edinburgh is by no means the worst offender for this sort of thing. Although one does get the sense that some of the practices date back to the 16th century.

Quote
(Again - sorry to derail the thread.)

Not at all - nice to see some chat here again.

That said, last years promotions were lolz. "In light of the uncertain times, they won't get the payrise for a year".

Same here - no promotions last year. Don't recall if increments happened or not - I think they might have done because not having them would have involved contract renegotiations which the Union was geared up to defend against. Also it seems that the financial impact has been less severe than feared, I think because student numbers have so far held up better than expected.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on May 18, 2021, 03:48:31 PM
Spine points happened in the Spring, annual increase (i.e. when they move to a new years' pay scale) didn't in the Summer.

But yes, we cut tightly a year ago and have spent the last month or so getting emails saying "if you have equipment you wish to purchase"

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on May 18, 2021, 03:49:02 PM
Yes.

And the last time I went through it, the results were decided 2 months in.

That said, last years promotions were lolz. "In light of the uncertain times, they won't get the payrise for a year".

https://comb.io/rzq3aj
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on May 18, 2021, 03:54:27 PM
Ah yes, the end-of-year spendouts. Those are always a lot of fun!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on May 21, 2021, 09:03:44 AM
[deleted depressing nonsense from my stressful situation, thought better of it -- nothing to see here]
Whee!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on May 21, 2021, 10:12:55 AM
Oh dear, sorry to hear (infer from the edit) that things haven't improved where you are.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on May 21, 2021, 12:55:50 PM
Just because I’m sure everyone was on tenterhooks - the department just emailed and said I was accepted by the faculty of graduate studies on Thursday, but there might be a delay in them formally notifying me “because Monday is a holiday” (?)

I wanted a roll of thick sepia parchment with a wax seal to arrive in the mail that said “CONGRATULATIONS” but I will take an email from the fairly curt admin person I suppose.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on May 21, 2021, 02:03:28 PM
Well done, but to be fair, we would generally hold off with congratulations until you've handed something in...
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on May 21, 2021, 03:22:50 PM
Oh dear, sorry to hear (infer from the edit) that things haven't improved where you are.

That is, sadly, understatement of the year :)

Meanwhile -- congrats, Ferris!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on May 21, 2021, 06:21:36 PM
Well done, but to be fair, we would generally hold off with congratulations until you've handed something in...

I’m looking forward to it, my undergrad prep courses went really well and I’m alright with being a “professional” student doing all the reading and stuff. My writing is fairly good (honest!) so I think it’ll go well. Hope so anyway!

That is, sadly, understatement of the year :)

Sorry to hear this, hope you’re alright.

Sorry to everyone else reading the thread - I know this isn’t the “Ferris talks about his non-problems and graduate studies” thread[1] and thank you for humouring me!
 1. that’s over in HS Art
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on July 04, 2021, 12:27:35 AM
Is this going to be shit for universities or a good thing?
https://theguardian.com/education/2021/jul/03/desperate-graduates-rush-to-study-panic-masters-after-job-rejections
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on July 04, 2021, 06:35:59 PM
Great for Unis - fees for masters are immense.

Not sure it’s a great move for the students, though, particularly if they’re already drowning in debt.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on July 04, 2021, 08:38:08 PM
Great for Unis - fees for masters are immense.

Not sure it’s a great move for the students, though, particularly if they’re already drowning in debt.

Makes sense. Is an influx of panicking, half arsed masters students who probably don't particularly want to be there a good thing for the teachers?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on July 05, 2021, 05:10:04 PM
Who cares about them?

Double-edged sword. On the one hand it makes it harder for institutions to argue that they're broke and sack everyone. On the other hand, it means more work when really it would be nice to have a bit of slack having really pushed the boat out the last 15 months. (I have finally managed to take my first full week of leave, barring Christmas, since March 2020). I'm personally not a huge fan of Masters because of the need to run projects over the summer months, which makes taking any time off at all almost impossible. Maybe in other disciplines you can say "go read this book and write a big essay about it whilst I lie on the beach in Spain" but not ours.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: mjwilson on July 05, 2021, 06:00:02 PM
https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/jul/05/manchester-university-sparks-backlash-with-plan-to-keep-lectures-online

Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on July 06, 2021, 08:11:26 PM
I think this depends a lot on what “blended learning” turns out to be. If it’s moving the less interactive parts of teaching into videos that can be rewatched, freeing up live time to do something more interesting that’s one thing. If it’s moving the interactive stuff online as a ruse to increase class sizes without building any estate, that’s another. Particularly if the idea is to go “true hybrid” and have to manage local and remote participation simultaneously.

So while it’s true that the staff costs in online teaching are the same, it’s not obvious it justifies the same high fee because it’s no longer having to finance the room that students are sitting this. Combined with an enthusiasm for “hybrid working” where you get staff paying for their own offices as well, you start to see why university managers a might be attracted to this sort of stuff.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on July 08, 2021, 03:05:50 PM
https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/jul/05/manchester-university-sparks-backlash-with-plan-to-keep-lectures-online

I think my favourite bit is

Quote
Prof Danielle George, head of blended learning, confirmed in a clip of the interview shared with the Guardian that this would mean large lectures would stay online, since they are “didactic and non-interactive”. However, she said “there isn’t that much across the university” which is not interactive.

We're juggling this at the moment. The reality is that almost all of us don't deliver purely didactic lectures anymore so this absolutely feels like:

Quote
If it’s moving the interactive stuff online as a ruse to increase class sizes without building any estate, that’s another.

The last time this came up - see previous page - I concluded with:

Quote
So yeah, I don't see the benefit, I don't see how we make it happen and I don't see how we make it work starting in September. Happy times.

I think we've got a plan, so long as its all a bit informal and we can get the big lecture rooms still.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on July 08, 2021, 03:08:02 PM
Just been appointed an external examiner at a solid department, which is an interesting opportunity.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on July 08, 2021, 08:45:53 PM
I’ve just come out of two days of external examining (my alma mater as it happens) and am about to go into another one tomorrow. It wasn’t supposed to overlap, but my previous engagement got covid-extended. It’s a very interesting experience, and apart from learning someone else’s weird and crazy rules and regulations around exam marks, you get to steal all their best ideas. That and being able to come up with some ill-considered suggestions at the end of the board meeting that sound superficially straightforward but are probably going to upset everyone for a few months.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on July 14, 2021, 07:18:09 PM
Our uni is planning to keep social distancing and mask rules the same through the summer, but we're gearing up to have students back in the classroom without social distancing in the autumn. The only restriction on filling every classroom is ventilation. In short, if there aren't enough windows, the amount of students who can be in there is reduced.

God knows how we're going to make sure the lecturers keep all the windows open in the winter though.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on July 14, 2021, 07:51:13 PM
Our uni is planning to keep social distancing and mask rules the same through the summer, but we're gearing up to have students back in the classroom without social distancing in the autumn. The only restriction on filling every classroom is ventilation. In short, if there aren't enough windows, the amount of students who can be in there is reduced.

God knows how we're going to make sure the lecturers keep all the windows open in the winter though.

You have windows? Miles ahead of us!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: oustropique on July 15, 2021, 09:44:28 AM
Results day for me. Graduating with a first in an arts subject. For the record, I've benefitted tremendously from remote study this year, in terms of marks and being able to concentrate. Checking this thread all year has been a periodic horror show, but my uni has been pretty supportive and forgiving over this period.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Bernice on July 15, 2021, 06:08:54 PM
Congrats oustropique, you clever bugger. Glad remote study worked out for you.

Found out today that we'll be moved out of our shiny new office into a proper dump come September, to accommodate students being back on campus, distancing and needing our space. Which is fine like, I can't really complain, but it was a nice office.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: BlodwynPig on July 15, 2021, 06:11:10 PM
Results day for me. Graduating with a first in an arts subject. For the record, I've benefitted tremendously from remote study this year, in terms of marks and being able to concentrate. Checking this thread all year has been a periodic horror show, but my uni has been pretty supportive and forgiving over this period.

Congrats, seen some of your stuff in HS art, 2:1 i said, but what do i know aboot art?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: bgmnts on July 15, 2021, 06:11:50 PM
Results day for me. Graduating with a first in an arts subject. For the record, I've benefitted tremendously from remote study this year, in terms of marks and being able to concentrate. Checking this thread all year has been a periodic horror show, but my uni has been pretty supportive and forgiving over this period.

Smartarse!

Mega congratulations. I hope to follow. Already passed my first module with two assignments to go so I may carry on with the studies.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on July 15, 2021, 06:14:09 PM
Results day for me. Graduating with a first in an arts subject. For the record, I've benefitted tremendously from remote study this year, in terms of marks and being able to concentrate. Checking this thread all year has been a periodic horror show, but my uni has been pretty supportive and forgiving over this period.

Missed this, congrats!

Arts degrees are great, don’t let ‘em tell you otherwise.

Ferris.
BA (Hons.) Philosophy
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Bernice on July 15, 2021, 06:18:49 PM
Yeah, I've got two of the fuckers and look at me now!

Well done to you too, bgmnts, hope you stick with it.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: oustropique on July 15, 2021, 09:31:49 PM
Thanks, all. Good luck to bgmnts. I realise my good experience is anecdotal, but it's proof that the old system of pure face-to-face isn't something to be immediately reverted to, just iterated upon, because it can be done well.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on July 20, 2021, 04:07:50 PM
air con broken in lab == :(
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on August 04, 2021, 12:14:26 PM
Over 50 % of PhDs in department pinged within 24 hours. All labs closed. Haha ... ha ... ha.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on August 10, 2021, 10:39:06 AM
Our labs have been open since the first lockdown ended, albeit with quite limited room capacities. Not aware of a pingdemic up here, but in Scotland you don't need the app to check into venues so it probably isn't as widely used. (My phone's too old to run it anyway).

In other news, I see that pretty girls are getting to open their envelopes across the UK today. I'm interested to see how this incoming cohort fares, having had the last two years of school disrupted, rather than just the last term. There's a particularly interesting dimension for Scottish students, who are generally made offers on the basis of Highers results while staying at school to do Advanced Highers. Our perception is that, without the need to pass those Adv Highers, some students tend to take the foot off the pedal in their final year at school. So if that part of their education was disrupted, the consequences would not have been too severe. However this year they'll be entering on teacher-assessed-during-lockdown Highers, so it will be interesting to see what difference (if any) that makes. If our current student population is anything to go by, its the general wellbeing and isolation arising from online/remote study that's more of an issue than loss of knowledge through a lack of in-person teaching. Academically, both at my own institution and where I am an external examiner, students have performed well, if not better than before. However, they are much less cheerful about it. (I know this doesn't apply to everyone, but that's the general trend I'm seeing).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 03, 2021, 08:52:31 PM
One way system in my building is now gone, resulting in a massive boost to my mental well-being. Probably be back in most days once term gets going…
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on September 03, 2021, 09:50:09 PM
Uni is officially mandating proof of vaccination to be on campus. If you opted out of vaccination for religious or personal reasons, you have to submit to testing 2x a week at own expense and provide that to the university. I think you get booted out if you argue with those terms.

Looks like that is going to be the norm here - a few other universities in the province have followed suit already.

Is that type of thing happening in the UK?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 03, 2021, 10:05:34 PM
Nope. Weirdly this seems only to be a thing in the “free world”.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Norton Canes on September 09, 2021, 05:04:31 PM
I see Gavin Williamson was at Northumbria University today (at least, I think it was him) pontificating on the merits of face-to-face teaching. I hope the notable CABers of that parish were there to make things uncomfortable for him wherever possible.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on September 09, 2021, 05:14:41 PM
In our uni Social Distancing is gone, but limits on classroom sizes based on ventilation are in place. Masks are still to be worn inside buildings.

Apparently some academics are opposing face to face teaching, though many here think that's on the basis that many of them simply prefer working from home as they have done for the last year and a half.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on September 09, 2021, 05:43:54 PM
I see Gavin Williamson was at Northumbria University today (at least, I think it was him) pontificating on the merits of face-to-face teaching. I hope the notable CABers of that parish were there to make things uncomfortable for him wherever possible.

He did one speech today on that topic by video link.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Norton Canes on September 09, 2021, 07:07:46 PM
Poor standards of BBC journalism again.

Quote
Trying to teach "complex molecular biology techniques" was much harder over Zoom, he told the conference at Northumbria University

...over Zoom.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on September 09, 2021, 08:01:53 PM
Nope. Weirdly this seems only to be a thing in the “free world”.

That does seem a bit odd - it seems so achievable and universities are hubs for national and international travel.

I submitted my proof of vaccine yesterday onto our student profile/web portal thing (otherwise I wasn't allowed to go to an orientation event in the afternoon). I doubt the jack-booted uni heavies would chuck me on the other side of the road if I didn't submit it, but still.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on September 16, 2021, 02:40:09 PM
Welcome Week at my university coming up next week.

Everybody ready?
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 16, 2021, 07:21:10 PM
Spent about 8 hours on campus today -- original plan was to go in for a Welcome Week meet and greet. and my colleague told me the wrong time, but never mind that now.

My university is pretending covid no longer exists -- no masks, no social distancing, nothing. All the hygiene stuff removed from the classrooms. I had to attend one meet and greet this morning that was about 80 Year 1s packed into a classroom, no masks in sight. Loads of social events going on (treasure hunts are big at my university, so there were roaming packs of 15-20 students crammed into hallways and rooms looking for stuff.) I am on 7 modules this semester, including one where 15 of us are packed into a 10 x 15 conference room.

I fully expect to cop a dose of covid at some point; the question is pretty much when and how badly.

Not even going to get into the clusterfuck of some of the new rules about how we're meant to record classes and all of the multi-layer security log-ins we now have on top of wondering when the covid is going to strike.

All this week are organised social events, plus of course the usual students-have-fun parties and events in the halls. Fresher flu usually sweeps through the campus by about week 3, so we'll see.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on September 16, 2021, 07:26:59 PM
We no longer have social distancing but the capacity of rooms are limited by ventilation. The windows are supposed to be open all the time but we’ll see how well that is kept to in winter.

Luckily I’m not a lecturer so I can keep the students at a distance.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 16, 2021, 07:30:32 PM
Christ, Attila...

Things are still quiet with us, despite it being Welcome Week this week. I've not been down to the main campus so am not sure what is happening there, but my building had enough people in it that you'd occasionally bump into someone in the corridor and have a chat, but not so many that I wanted to go a different way.

Classes are capped at 50, so lectures are still online and in principle most tutorials, workshops and (crucially) labs are in-person. I think it will be ok - we were working on a 1m planning assumption which got relaxed a little. Given that, after the first week, you never get a full-house anyway, I anticipate that all in-person classes will be 1m distanced. Students are required to wear masks, but staff aren't (these are the Scot Gov rules). I've met this week with about 20 students in-person. All of them masked up and proudly bearing their jabs, apart from one who was concerned they were showing symptoms so stayed home for a test (negative). I'm participating in the in-house screening programme and although I'm skeptical as to its sensitivity, it's reassuring to get a negative result every three days. I'm not too worried, although if I were working in the UG office I might be...

There will no doubt be a wave as the students press each other together in sweaty environments, and we'll get blamed for it, even though we're about the only place left with any social distancing to speak of.

EDIT: there seems to be a bit of Fresher's flu going about, but if everyone thinks it might be covid, stays in and get tested, ironically, this might help us avoid the start-of-term spike...
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: poo on September 16, 2021, 08:15:13 PM
Full-on f-2-f - same as last year
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: buttgammon on September 16, 2021, 08:29:10 PM
We're not entirely f2f here - large lectures are staying online but tutorials are all in-person, in my department anyway. Masks will be required in class and students have to sit 1m apart (fair enough) but the ventilation is shit and most of the rooms we use are in a building that has hardly any windows, so there are still problems.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: pancreas on September 17, 2021, 01:04:40 AM
I absolutely cannot see the point in masks when the cunts will be cheek-by-jowl filling a 300 seat lecture hall to the brim and spitting down each other's fuckholes every goddamn night.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on September 17, 2021, 02:37:46 AM
…and that’s just at pancreas’ flat !!
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on September 17, 2021, 12:46:36 PM
Welcome Week at my university coming up next week.

Everybody ready?

LOL. Yeah. Sure.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on September 17, 2021, 12:49:57 PM
Quote
all of the multi-layer security log-ins we now have

SNAP!

Except we're introducing those MIDWAY through term.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Attila on September 17, 2021, 02:59:36 PM
SNAP!

Except we're introducing those MIDWAY through term.

Yeah, that's usually a page out of my uni's playbook. Best one was completely and utterly revamping and changing our intranet midway through a semester -- no one amongst students or staff could find anything subsequently, just before finals.

As usual, mine has come up with about half a dozen new initiatives in the past two weeks with no formal announcements, no testing of systems, no consultation with staff. I still have zero idea how we're meant to implement the new attendance policy which involves having to generate security codes for the students each time we have a new class with them (so, for example, if I have a lecture at 12, and then the seminars in different rooms at different hours that day or later in the week, I have to generate all new codes for the students. Oh, and triage any problems they have despite learning that I have to do all of this...three days ago).

I absolutely cannot see the point in masks when the cunts will be cheek-by-jowl filling a 300 seat lecture hall to the brim and spitting down each other's fuckholes every goddamn night.

Same -- we are required to have one to one tutorials via Teams for the 'students protection and mental well being' yet they're being crammed back into lecture halls, not wearing masks, attending a billion social events the university is organising, and doing fuck knows what in halls and housing when they're not in class.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on September 17, 2021, 03:22:59 PM
Last year, we made the assumption that they'd be up to all sorts off campus so all our on-campus stuff essentially assumed they were riddled. Only way to be sure.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on September 18, 2021, 10:46:22 AM
Here it's a legal requirement for students (though not staff) to wear masks while in the University, so we can at least deflect any criticism of whether this is pissing in the wind to the government. Nevertheless, I think we're in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation.

I gather there are some departments which are doing little in the way of in-person teaching, for reasons that are unclear to me. I'm using a bit more real estate than in the pre-covid days, which might be reducing the space available for other classes but one feels this ought to be compensated by the fact that essentially all lectures are taking place online. Apparently there is some discontent among students who have turned up to discover a single fortnightly in-person class on their timetable. As I said before, I think my own department has struck a pragmatic balance between offering a decent amount of in-person teaching without having too many people in the same space at the same time. We'll see how it plays out. Despite the fact I hate online teaching with a passion, I am also glad I won't be walking into a theatre of 300 coughing students on Monday[1]. But I do plan to drop into the workshops to say Hello (and to show some solidarity with the TAs who'll be doing most of the in-person teaching).

I think whilst mask-wearing and distancing may be to some extent performative when the students can go out together in the evening and do whatever they like with each other, the University is probably insisting on it in the hope it can avoid the negative press of outbreaks on-campus. With cases starting to fall up here, it would be great if the start of term doesn't reverse that as otherwise universities are going to get blamed even though we're about the only place left where mask-wearing and distancing is still a thing! It's not clear there's a better alternative route. If we were able to return to business as usual, as is possible down south, that almost guarantees a spike. If we reverted to fully online, as some colleagues apparently seem to want, we'd be looking at the continued stress and workload implications of trying to do something that the level of tech we have right now isn't really capable of, further exacerbating student mental and physical health problems arising from isolation and being stuck on the other side of a screen all day[2], and, in the longer term, students will fuck off to places where in-person is the norm and we'll not have anyone left to teach with inevitable redundancies as a consequence.

It's a tricky situation with no right answer, although plenty of wrong ones (as demonstrated upthread).
 1. My predecessor on my course contracted measles a few years ago, I suspect as a result of the first of the Wakefield generation coming through. They were hospitalised with complications including meningitis. The first thing I did when I took over the course was to get the MMR jab - I'd lost my childhood vaccination record so although I'm fairly sure I'd have been jabbed, I didn't want to take any chances. If you're of a nervous disposition, I would not advise looking up R0 for measles.
 2. I've seen at first hand the highly deleterious effects of this on students who were previously acing their courses
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on September 18, 2021, 12:33:03 PM
My thoughts exactly.

We've planned all labs around reduced numbers and maintaining many of the rules from last year. Lectures etc are different but we've let staff continue teaching online if they so wished. Rooms have been underfilled i.e. 300 capacity for ca. 100.

My department's plan A is the University plan B*, and we have everything set up for moving sessions online. Review in Week 7 and at Christmas. Cross everything.

Not entirely sure anyone else has spotted that the Govt winter plan appears to be a vaccine mandate for Universities if they move up to their second tier of restrictions.

*actually got a minor bollocking for this. I stood my ground.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on October 02, 2021, 07:08:40 PM
We’re now three weeks in (if you include welcome week) and a spike is yet to materialise. The case rate in the university is running at about 1/3rd that of the general population. Interestingly the screening programme seems to be running at a higher rate of positives, which suggests it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing and catching asymptomatic cases. I also feel more reassured by twice weekly negative tests. Especially after having spent a day and a half circulating first year classes - not because anyone made me, but because I missed meeting students in the flesh last year. They all seemed happy enough, which is good. And all wearing their masks. I guess that’s what they’ve been doing at school for the last year so it probably feels more natural for them than it does for us.

So you never know. We may just get away with this.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: FerriswheelBueller on October 02, 2021, 08:19:02 PM
We’re in the same boat. After the mandate, I’m told by some admin bod that our university is ~98% fully vaccinated and the other 2% are mainly lads from China that have had a non-approved vaccine so they’re a bit stuck in administrative limbo but essentially fully vaccinated.

Despite this (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/street-party-halifax-covid-restrictions-police-dalhousie-1.6189860) stupid party of several thousand undergraduates in a random residential neighbourhood which made the local news, no explosion of cases so also getting away with it.

Wait and see time I suppose. We are retaining social distancing, capacity limits and mandatory indoor masking until the pandemic is declared over, the only jurisdiction in North America to do so which is nice fing to do innit Andy.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: Alberon on October 02, 2021, 10:33:02 PM
I'm seeing a lot less mask wearing when students are piling in for a lecture, but not bad in general. We have no social distancing in classroom layouts, but we've been asked to put a plan in place if a return to 1m+ social distancing is required.

I'm still generally optimistic, though it is very weird to be walking through the university with all these people around. We've virtually had the place to ourselves the last year and a half.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on October 03, 2021, 10:57:13 AM
I think we had at least ca. 50 % of our cohort catch it last year (as in, it was reported to uni systems), so that's likely to be an underestimate.

One, older, member of staff has now caught it, during Welcome Week, so not quite in the clear yet.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on October 03, 2021, 10:58:47 AM
Quote
We are retaining social distancing, capacity limits and mandatory indoor masking

I'd be happier with this in place. We've got 1/3 in general university buildings and another 1/3 in the labs I'm responsible for (where we actually can't do masking but goggles, gloves etc are all in place).
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on October 06, 2021, 11:07:05 AM
do do do
let's all do the Covid
do do do
colleague went to an Away Day with symptoms
do do do
there was no to little ventilation
do do do
let's all do the Covid

Think only one confirmed follow-on infection but STILL mate
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on October 07, 2021, 08:06:37 AM
That’s reckless. Though the fact it doesn’t seem to have caused an outbreak suggests that immunity amongst the student body is high. We’re currently reporting one case per 10000 students each day, five times lower than the general population.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: A Hat Like That on October 07, 2021, 01:09:54 PM
Away Day is staff only, so the one other infection was a fairly senior member of staff. Yes, older. Yes, likely other medical issues.

Reckless ain't the word.
Title: Re: University Challenged
Post by: greencalx on October 07, 2021, 04:44:43 PM
Ah right. Got you. Thought you meant a field trip or something. Interestingly online is still mostly the default for us, tutorials and small research / lab meetings being the exception. I think it makes sense to reserve in person for essential situations where online doesn’t really work. I’m not sure staff meetings count.