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Survey: Vast majority of UB faculty concerned about in-person teaching

The University of The Bahamas (UB) said 87 percent of its faculty is concerned or very concerned about teaching face-to-face because of the “uncertainty” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That figure came from an online survey — regarding the way forward for the university’s upcoming fall semester —  that was sent to faculty on July 3.

“Of the concerned and very concerned faculty, 78 percent indicated they would prefer to teach virtually only,” the university said in a statement.

“Faculty were also asked which type of course could best be delivered virtually. Ninety-five percent of the faculty agreed that lectures/seminars could be delivered in a virtual environment.”

Dr. Maria Oriakhi, the university’s vice president of academic affairs, said UB didn’t want to make any decisions with input from faculty and students.

“The data collected allowed us to determine how the 2020/2021 academic year would be structured given the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic with minimal interruption to the continuity and quality of the teaching-learning process,” she said.

However, Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas (UTEB) President Daniel Thompson shot that down, noting that the survey should not “substitute for consultation with the faculty representative, UTEB, and the academic senate”.

“This approach to leadership is anathema to the concept of shared governance,” he said.

“It is not the vice president of academic affairs’ purview nor that of the UB president to unilaterally make decisions that affect terms and conditions of employment of faculty without consultation with UTEB.

“Senators are dealing separately with the implication of the non-involvement and you are encouraged to seek clarification from your senators as I have done in the School of Business and Hospitality Management.”

Thompson said data cannot determine how the upcoming academic year will be structured.

“While the data can, indeed, assist in such determination, after consultation with the faculty representative, a survey cannot be the sole basis for determining terms and conditions of workers and the implementation of the same without discussion with workers,” he said.

“The survey was conducted in an effort to obtain the opinion of faculty but is not a negotiation tool, since the interpretation and application of the results uses an heuristic approach.”

Last week, UB President Dr. Rodney Smith announced that most of the university’s courses will be delivered virtually during the 2020/2021 academic year.

The university had previously indicated that it would resume all classes and student services for fall 2020.

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