Academics ‘distressed’ by anonymous student feedback

UCU says students’ union is encouraging ‘hate mail’ to lecturers. Melanie Newman reports

May 29, 2009

Academics at the University of Bolton have been left “extremely distressed” by a student campaign to give them feedback on their performance by posting anonymous messages in their pigeonholes.

Marianne Quick, University and College Union representative from the North West region higher education committee, said: “Members have contacted the union extremely distressed at personalised postcards that have been left in their pigeonholes by students.

“These postcards produced by the Bolton students’ union were emblazoned with the slogan: ‘Feedback, where’s ours?’ On the reverse of the card, a mark is given out of ten, and there is a space for the students to write the lecturer’s name – but interestingly not their own.”

She continued: “One academic affected said the students’ union had provided an open invitation to send hate mail, as that is what it felt like. This is anonymous bullying and victimisation with no right of reply. Of course there is a need for students to have processes by which they can legitimately provide feedback in order to be fair and effective, but this needs to be agreed in an open and transparent way.”

Ms Quick’s motion to the UCU’s congress called on the higher education committee to publicise the practices to the wider membership and to advise members to report institutions where this occurs.

She also mentioned a campaign devised by the students’ union at Manchester Metropolitan University. As Times Higher Education reported in April, it encourages students to use text messages to report academics who are late to lectures.

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