Heriot-Watt JISC Digital Experience Surveys

Heriot-Watt University have asked that we share this with our networks to improve staff and student engagement with the JISC Digital Experience Survey.

Why participate?

The survey is an opportunity for staff and students at Heriot-Watt to provide feedback that will help shape our digital future. By participating you will help with:

  • Transforming and enhancing the digital experience for both students and staff
  • Establishing baseline data and monitoring year-on-year improvements
  • Identifying gaps in provision and providing targeted support
  • Benchmarking our progress against national standards
  • Demonstrating enhanced levels of engagement and responsiveness to the student voice
  • Informing future investment decisions

All you need to complete the survey is 15 minutes of time. Click on the relevant link to start. Please note that there isn’t a survey specific to researchers so we would ask you to complete the one of the two more relevant to your role. For most but not all academics this will probably be teaching.

Professional services staff: digital experience insights survey 2023/24 – Heriot-Watt University

Higher education teaching staff: digital experience insights survey 2023/24 – Heriot-Watt University

The survey is designed so that no identifiable characteristics are asked for or gathered. The data is collected at University level only. The data will not be attributed to specific Schools, Institutes or Departments. Questions are optional. It is recommended people answer questions as honestly and openly as possible, however there is no obligation to answer all questions in the survey – you can still submit your response.

Response to email from the Principal

I would like to respond to the Principal Richard A Williams comments in the staff update email about industrial action from Tuesday 23 March.

The Principal describes his disappointment that the Higher Education Committee appears to have ignored the wishes of members. This is simply not the case. E-ballots are informal and BDMs are advisory. HEC decided that the offer was not enough of an improvement to be formally put to members. This is representative democracy.

Pausing action to put every offer directly to members in a formal ballot only encourages employers to make a series of meaningless offers in order to disrupt a dispute and kill the momentum of industrial action.

Members had already voted overwhelmingly to reject the pay offer in the previous snap e-ballot and little progress has been made on equality, casualisation, and workloads.

UCEA are also demanding that UCU agree to stand down industrial action for a year as a pre-condition of entering into further talks.

If the Principal would like to talk about ignoring survey results how about we start with recent staff satisfaction surveys where the need for better leadership/management is consistently one of the most commented themes, along with better pay and progression and more manageable workloads.


Watt Could be Better?

How has the semester shaped up so far? Are any issues emerging – covid, ERP, PDR, timetabling, workload, student support, or even just finding somewhere to buy a coffee?

The local UCU branch will be hosting an open online meeting to discuss at 12:30pm on Wednesday 12 October.

This is a chance for all staff to talk to UCU reps about working at Heriot-Watt University.

The meeting is open to members and non-members and the Zoom link for meeting can be found on the Watt Could be Better? newsbeat article on the staff intranet at (HWU login required).

People Enabler

HWUCU oppose the use of metrics. We have not agreed to the use of metrics for research, or in connection with a performance review tool which is known variously as People Enabler, Succession Planner, or Talent Review.

Please contact the branch office if your line manager or anyone from HR contacts you about this.

Working group

We are currently setting up a working group about systems, processes and workflows. If you are interested in joining this group, please email me at m.winters@hw.ac.uk.

UCU Rising – there’s still time to vote

First of all thank you for your continued support of both UCU nationally and of your local branch. UCU is its members and you are vital to our continued work within Heriot Watt and also with national collective bargaining.

I received my ballot papers the day after they were sent (which is highly unusual). I had just returned from visiting my local CWU picket line to taking UCU’s best wishes to our brilliant fellow trade unionists working as posties. CWU have always supported our pickets, visiting to stand with us in solidarity. Twice now people in the street have stopped me to say thank you for standing with the posties and to say good luck in our ballots.

This morning I had a knock at the door and it was my lovely postie with a parcel, saying they remembered me from visiting their pickets and they wanted to see how I was and to say thank you. A timely and moving reminder that we are not in this alone. We are part of a wider labour movement, standing together, in solidarity, to create the change all of our workplaces so desperately need.

If you have not returned your ballot papers yet, please do so ASAP and be part of a collective movement with your postie, trail workers, dock workers, barristers in England and all the other trade unionists voting to stand up for what is right.

Today you will have received an email asking if you have returned your ballot papers. We ask so that we can see where we are in terms of ballots having been received and if there are members with any questions about the ballots.

If you would like to know more about the campaign or need to order a replacement ballot you can find that information here https://www.ucu.org.uk/rising

Yours in solidarity,
Kate (HW UCU equalities officer and UCU Scotland Equalities Officer)

Tell us about your experiences of working in UK higher eduction

UCU have heard just how many of our members in higher education are struggling with the cost of living, casualisation, workloads, and inequality. We also know that university vice-chancellors and senior management are often oblivious and indifferent to the struggles of their staff.

Use this online form to tell us about your experience of working in UK higher education.

Member meeting to discuss local negotiations on USS and 4F

We will be holding a member meetings on Wednesday 22 June from 2.00-3.00pm in to discuss the latest developments in the disputes. All members have been sent Zoom login details ahead of these meetings. If you do not receive yours, or if you need a reminder, please contact Juergen at the local branch.

At the meeting will have an update on local negotiations to agree joint statements on the USS pension and the 4-Fights with HWU.

Please join us. This is your chance to feed back and indicate what you think about the direction in which we are headed. Should we stand down the assessment and marking boycott in return for the joint statements?

Of the 20 branches who went into the boycott a significant number have now managed to secure statements on USS dispute as well as local agreements which improve working conditions for those branches and help to shift the position nationally. The number of statements on USS now covers 43% of all USS members and continues to rise. We hope to add HWU to that total soon.

Thank you to all branch members who continue to participate in ASOS including the marking and assessment boycott. It is the accumulation of all your efforts to date since December which is starting to make a difference in the disputes.

We will running a members’ poll after the meeting. All members will be sent a link. Please check you inbox and vote on the proposals. It is important that as many members as possible cast their vote.



Please return your ballot. It matters.

I have posted mine. Have you posted yours?

Trade Union laws require us to reballot every 6 months, so we are in ballot again to extend the existing mandate for another 6 months.

When your ballot papers for the USS Pension and 4-Fight disputes arrives, please complete the forms as soon as possible and then return in the pre-paid envelope provided. Not voting deprives your colleagues of a voice because we are required to receive replies from at least 50% of members for the result to count. It is important that you return your ballot whichever way you vote.

We will be in touch by email to ask if members have voted, but not how they have voted.  If you did not receive your ballot papers please let us know.

Replacement voting packs can now be requested via the form at https://yoursay.ucu.org.uk/s3/Four-Fights-and-USS-re-ballots-replacement-request-form-March-April-2022, and you will need a note of your membership number.

This ballot matters to UCU

UCEA and UUK, have lied and spread misinformation throughout this dispute. they have been intractable and have refused to consider UCU proposals. They are giving every indication that they want to break the unions so they can make whatever cuts they like from now on. Only a strong mandate can bring them back to the table and show them we are not allowing them to side-line our concerns and cut our pensions year after year.

This ballot matters to HW UCU

It is less than two years since our own employer tried to make many of us redundant. A strong mandate reminds them that if they come for us we will stand up. It also helps us to negotiate locally on the issues that matter to us, like H&S, workloads, and it also underpins the work we do for individual members in casework. We are a strong branch.

This ballot matters to you

UUK have voted through cuts to USS pensions that means at the very least USS members will lose 1/8th of future pension accrual but you get to pay 0.2% more for it. If inflation rises above 2.5% you will lose more – even a modest average inflation rate of 2.8% can wipe a 6th of the value of your future defined benefit pension out over 20 years- that’s right, you could lose up to 1/6th of your annual income between when you retire at 67 and the age of 87. Even more if inflation is higher. The less time you have spent in HE the more this will affect you. Not fair!

Not only that. An employee coming into HE now at grade 7 is paid the equivalent of grade 6 ten years ago. Once you hit the top of your grade your pay goes down year after year. UCEA themselves in 2019, said we have lost 17% of our pay in real terms. Since then we have had a 0% pay rise and last year’s 1.5%. Inflation is now rising rapidly. Without a strong mandate UCEA will make another paltry offer this year.

The gender pay gap at HWU is 20%. Since many staff have left without being replaced, workloads, that were already high are becoming more and more unmanageable.

New to the branch?

You should still vote.

Not in USS?

You should still vote in both ballots.

Not in the UCU?

It is never too late to join the UCU. You do not have to be a member of a union to take part in industrial action and had have your voice heard, but it is advisable. Being part of a recognised collective bargaining group comes with benefits and protections.

It only takes a few minutes to join the UCU, it doesn’t cost much, and your subscription will be eligible for tax relief.

Please return your ballot. It matters.

Could you be a university Vice Chancellor?

Take our senior leadership exam and find out. Answer 2 questions from 5 in 2 hours. Each question is worth 100 marks. Provide evidence where relevant.

  1. You are a senior leader within a university, your staff report they are working 60 hours a week, and you pay audit reveals women are earning 19% less than men, and disabled people are earning 34% less than non-disabled colleagues. Critically evaluate the extent to which this supports staff well-being.
  2. Critically assess the evidence base for workplace well-being interventions such as work-life balance seminars and visits by alpacas.
  3. Your staff survey shows that pay has fallen in real terms by 20% in the last 10 years, while house prices in the last year have increased by 8.8%, and that approximately 60% of key work is delivered by people on precarious contracts. To what extend does this information help to address the ongoing difficulties your organisation has in attracting and retaining world leading scientists
  4. To what extent is a projected 35% cut in pension reflective of socially responsible human resource management?
  5. The student experience is well-served by a workforce which is exhausted, underpaid, and overworked. Drawing in relevant evidence, critically evaluate this statement.

Our UCU branch is its members

We rely on members and non-members to let us know what is going on within their school or service and flag anything that may be of concern.

Please do get in touch with a member of local branch committee if you have anything you think we need to know about.

It is never to late to join and being part of a recognised collective bargaining group comes with benefits and protections. If you would like to join the UCU you can do so at How to Join. It only takes a few minutes, it doesn’t cost much, and your subscription will be eligible for tax relief.

We also have free membership options for postgraduate research students.

UCU Higher Education Disputes Survey (open to all staff)

UCU have launched an emergency survey to find out how the worsening situation over pensions and pay and working conditions is impacting on you and your career in higher education. We want to know how you feel about the way staff are being treated, and if the collective disdain of vice-chancellors has left you considering your future in the sector. These aren’t nice questions to ask or answer, but the information gathered can help us demonstrate that employer attacks don’t just affect staff, but the viability of the entire sector.

Please take a moment to tell us how you are being affected by the crisis in higher education by completing the short survey at https://yoursay.ucu.org.uk/s3/HE-dispute-survey

This is open to all staff, union members and non-members alike.