By Tom Mitchell
Durham University has shelved its College Operations Review with immediate effect, and “for the foreseeable future”, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The review proposed changes to housekeeping and portering services in colleges, with the stated aim of standardising provision across the University. For most colleges, this would have meant a reduction in cleaning services from fortnightly to termly. The proposals had been due to be introduced in August, in time for the start of the 2020/21 academic year.
There will be no further activity associated with the BPR Phase 2 in the foreseeable future and for at least six months
However, in an email to students, the University said in light of COVID-19 it had been “reviewing all of its activities. It is no longer feasible to continue the project due to the effect of the situation on staff and student availability.
“Further, given that it is a large-scale project with a potentially significant impact on our staff and students the university has decided not to continue the process in this challenging and uncertain time.
“There will be no further activity associated with the BPR Phase 2 in the foreseeable future and for at least six months”.
The proposals had attracted criticism from staff and students alike. In an interview with Palatinate earlier this month, one full-time college porter said: “What they’re doing with the weekend porters is absolutely disgraceful.
“It always seems to be the lower end of the scale that gets hit when it comes to any job losses and saving money. Weekend porters are going to lose 32 hours’ pay per month. I don’t know how you can justify that.”
The proposals had attracted criticism from staff and students alike
Speaking to Palatinate, DSU President Kate McIntosh said: “It is reassuring that the University has acknowledged the significant impact these changes to college operations could have on students and on staff.
“I’m pleased the University agreed to undertake one of the most thorough consultations ever, and thank you to everyone who was part of the process, and to everyone who campaigned, organised and got others interested.
“Ending this activity for the foreseeable future is absolutely the right thing to do, and I hope that we now reflect on the scale and stength of the response from students who are concerned about proposed changes. The University has a duty to protect staff and students, and I would like to see that remembered now and in the future.”
Image by Maddie Flisher