St Andrews University accused of ‘failing staff’

The University of St Andrews has been accused of ‘failing staff’ by MSP Mark Ruskell.

Under questioning from Mr Ruskell, Education Secretary John Swinney stressed the importance of ‘high quality’ dialogue between university management and staff as teaching resumes across Scotland.

However, the St Andrew’s branch of the University and College Union has lodged a ‘Failure to Agree’ notice with the university.

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Mr Ruskell said: “Unions have been warning St Andrews’ management for weeks now that their plans were simply not good enough but it’s clear their concerns have been ignored.

“The formal notice of a ‘Failure to Agree’ is ultimately a failure of the university management’s duty of care to both its staff and students.

“There can be no more excuses. St Andrews’ management must listen to their staff and change course now.”

A university spokesperson said: “While we understand that everyone feels anxious in these difficult times, the UCU position completely misrepresents the situation at the University of St Andrews.

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“From longstanding and frequent discussions involving all the campus trades unions, UCU and Mr Ruskell are very well aware that we are cautiously phasing in a modest level of safe, risk-assessed, in-person teaching to complement our on-line offerings, while keeping the entire operation constantly under review.

“This approach is important for students’ wellbeing and social inclusion as well as their education, and is in lockstep with Scottish Government policy. A clear majority of our students want in-person teaching, and the classes we’ve run at St Andrews already this term have had a hugely positive response from staff and students.

“We are deeply saddened that the formal UCU stance of resisting in-person teaching appears not to prioritise those values of care and inclusion.

“It also contrasts starkly with the constructive professionalism of the other campus trades Uuions, Unite and Unison, who have formally distanced themselves from UCU’s stance.”