Open Letter from the Surrey UCU Committee re Staff Survey 2022

We draw to your attention the concern that UCU has over the lack of free text comments in the 2022 staff survey, even though this matter had been raised previously in a Joint Negotiation and Consultative Committee. We find from members that the survey was inhibiting staff from communicating what needs to be heard, which we believe such inhibition is silencing what management do not want to hear.

In light of this we have allowed members to complete a “Not the staff survey” in which they were given the opportunity to write free text. We have taken care to ensure that references to or indications of named people if they occurred have been removed. Our members had given consent to allow the free text to be shared with Senior Management in confidence.

We draw particular attention to the following points where we expect management to take concerns on board and seek changes to address them:

· Workloads and wellbeing of staff.
· Managerial decisions and the inhumane way that re-organisation is taking place in parts of the University.
· The lack of fully embracing flexible working.
· That employees were not given the opportunity in the staff survey to distinguish their opinions on different levels of management.
· Lack of reward and progression for professional service staff in places.
· Implementation of the curriculum development review and its workload demands.
· Support for disabled and neurodivergent staff and equality pay gaps.
· The need for senior management to actively lobby to revoke the cuts in the USS pension dispute.
· Gender pay gap issues and gender bias.

In light of the overwhelming response to this exercise from members, we request that in future years the staff survey will be clear about allowing free expression of thoughts and concerns with a free text box. We would also seek clear consultation with the campus trade unions on the questionsthat will be set. We note the importance of this particularly in regards to one question from the 2021 survey: “My views are considered when the University makes significant decisions”, which scored only 24% positive and was re-written in 2022 to become: “I have the opportunity to feed into my department/faculty when significant decisions are being made” to subsequently get 51% positive. We further note that the University has considered this to be a 27 percentage point rise, yet the two questions are clearly different. We are in unanimous agreement that a like for like comparison cannot be made between these two questions and that there is no means to prove whether there has been an improvement or decline in this matter since 2021.

We would not only wish to request to be involved in the formation of next year’s staff survey, but furthermore we would like to discuss the possibility of working together with the University on analysing the findings from the current survey. A working group of members have already expressed interest in this and as such it is an important way of evidencing clear collegiality between the University, trade unions and likewise staff in understanding what the survey is informing us on and how we can actively improve upon it.

We hope that you will take these matters on board and look forward to positive ways of working together.

Kind regards,

UCU Surrey Committee