Policing online cheating is adding to workload, lecturers say

TUI says 29% of members considered leaving due to concerns regarding Covid-19

 TUI president  Martin Marjoram. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

TUI president Martin Marjoram. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill


Lecturing staff in third-level educational institutions have experienced a significant increase in workload following the move to remote teaching during the pandemic, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has said.

Survey findings released by the union ahead of its annual conference next week found 92 per cent of lecturers saying they were spending more time preparing and providing remote classes and carrying out associated work than they would have spent on face-to-face delivery.

“Protecting the integrity of assessment and protecting against plagiarism in an era of remote learning have also become more time-consuming and more challenging,” TUI president Martin Marjoram said.

The survey found that many members had serious health concerns regarding Covid-19 and 29 per cent stated that they had considered leaving the profession or retiring early as a result of the pandemic.

The union also said that despite the focus on Covid-19, the funding crisis facing third-level education had “not disappeared”.

With an overall membership of 20,000, the TUI represents 4,000 academic staff in institutes of technology and technological universities across the country.

Mr Marjoram said 85 per cent of members in the survey said their job was more difficult than prior to the pandemic. One in three said remote teaching took “more time” than face-to-face delivery, while a further 60 per cent said it took “much more time”.

Health concerns

“Our members at third level identified serious health concerns in relation to the pandemic,” he continued.

The survey found 25 per cent of members had an underlying health issue that was of concern in terms of coronavirus, while 24 per cent lived with somebody who has underlying medical issues that make them vulnerable to the virus.

Some 8 per cent said they lived with somebody who is over 70 years of age and so in a higher risk age category, while 29 per cent stated that they had considered leaving the profession or retiring early as a result of Covid-19.

The union said there were also issues around IT facilities, broadband, and relevant training to facilitate emergency remote learning.

It said while 42 per cent of members were satisfied that students had the required IT facilities (not including broadband) to participate in remote learning, it was worrying that an almost identical number – 41 per cent – did not believe students had the required IT facilities.

“In this regard, we believe it is important to highlight that educational disadvantage does not cease after post-primary, and provision must be made available to provide a level playing field to all students.”

The union said that almost two thirds of members in the survey believed that the two-tier system of pay which put assistant lecturers appointed since 2011 on a lesser pay scale had damaged morale among staff.