The Registrar Dr Paul Greatrix, Director of Human Resources Jaspal Kaur, and the President of the University of Nottingham UCU Branch Dr Matt Green, together with Agnes Flues and Lila Matsumoto met on 31 January 2019 for informal conversations on issues raised by the Union in its letter of complaint.
While the University and the Union approach the issues from slightly different perspectives, the meeting identified considerable common ground and agreements to work collaboratively to address them. A summary of the issues raised and actions agreed follows below:
- PDPR: while recent developments to fully reform the PDPR process are welcomed, the Union representatives raised issues where the current process was incorrectly or inconsistently applied. It was agreed that the University will reiterate current messaging on the correct application of the current process for this reporting cycle, while continuing to progress work in partnership with staff to develop the new model. The University will also examine live discipline cases to identify if any arose via inappropriate application of the current process.
- Workload planning: The Union representatives raised issues of inconsistency of practice and management of workload across the University. It was agreed that the University would arrange targeted discussions with relevant Schools or Faculties to identify and resolve any issues that are identified. Further, there is a need to reflect on the messaging around workload and in particular to avoid having workloads above 100% treated as departmental or school norms whilst at the same time retaining flexibility and autonomy for staff. Attention will also be directed to reasonable adjustments for staff with disabilities to ensure that these are incorporated consistently across Schools.
- Project Transform/Campus Solutions: while the Campus Solutions software is now in the final stages of implementation, UCU raised numerous issues concerning the impact on staff resulting from delays in Project Transform. In particular, there are concerns over responsibility and resourcing for administrative duties and related workload issues. The meetings between UCU and the the Deputy Vice-Chancellor will be reinstated with the Registrar also attending.
- REF readiness activities: while the Guidance on Codes of Practice was issued on 31 January 2019, UCU raised numerous issues concerning the design and implementation of local approaches to REF readiness and consequent impacts workload and application. It was agreed that the University would enquire as to whether different approaches to assessment are occurring across Schools, and make the University code of practice on REF available for further consultation. UCU and the University will examine anonymised information to ensure that staff have been treated fairly in the small number of instances where quality of REF outputs has led to the initiation of formal processes. The University will also consider sending out a message re performance improvement to emphasise that it is intended to be a helpful and supportive process.
- Savings & efficiency: in addition, the meeting discussed University finances and the potential external pressures presented by Brexit and the Augar Review. The University will arrange a joint session with the unions to explore their ideas for improving efficiency across the institution and creating savings to reinvest in priorities for research, teaching, staff and students.
The University and the UCU Branch will continue to work collaboratively to pursue these actions. The University will also continue to deliver further actions set out in the Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Covenant to delegate decision-making, increase transparency, and improve equality, diversity and inclusion across our University community.