‘Staff’ When It Suits

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Surprise mass e-mails from the Vice Chancellor seldom augur well...

I have been required to sign a Data Protection Undertaking issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office following an accidental information security breach at the University last summer. As part of this undertaking I have committed to ensuring that all staff are made aware of the University’s Data Protection Policy and receive training as a matter of absolute priority... The [online] training module should take a maximum of half an hour to complete...

I have asked and had it confirmed that yes, the University expects part-time tutors to do this training, despite the fact that we are not employees but unsalaried workers on contracts for services, and there is nothing resembling this new imposition included in our contracts. Presumably it falls under the same line of thought as the unremunerated training which new tutors are expected to undergo before being granted contracts in the first place; but those of us already under contract this year are basically being ordered to do extra work for free.

Fortunately, by the time the deadline rolls around the teaching year will have ended and our yearly teaching contracts with it, thus saving me the bother of dealing with this.

Update, 16th July: They’re now threatening to disable e-mail sending on university accounts as an arm-twisting measure. Given that I’ve graduated and won’t be returning as a tutor in the next academic year, meaning that I’d ordinarily be about to lose that e-mail account anyway, this is a touch hilarious... but in fact I retain some academic ties to the University and may yet take other work there, so in the end I opted to do the training as what I think is called a gesture of professional goodwill (and to avoid making trouble for departmental colleagues), consoling myself with another strongly worded missive. Given that my continuing involvement is of direct academic benefit to the University, I rather had to point out that theirs is a strangely undiplomatic way of handling both professional and alumni relations.

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