Performance Review – Latest Advice 15th September 2017

Performance Review 2017

Engage Under Protest

Colleagues will be aware that York UCU has not approved the current version of Performance Review.  We are not opposed to Performance Review in principle. But we cannot give our approval to this version of the process. Our key concern is the complete disregard for confidentiality in the 2017 version of Performance Review.

The issue arises in the small print at the very end of the current form. Under the benign heading of Oversight, the form reads: ‘In exceptional circumstances . . . completed review forms may be shared with senior members of the university (appropriate to the area in question) e.g. The Dean, The Registrar & Secretary, or others as deemed appropriate by the VC.’  This is unacceptable.

In a series of meetings with university management, going back to 2014, we have argued on your behalf that confidentiality is essential to any properly constructive process of Performance Review. In June 2017 our discussions with university management reached an impasse over this issue of confidentiality.

Performance Review used to be developmental and contained within departments, in accord with custom and practice.  The 2017 version is top-down, disciplinary, centralised and no longer confidential.  Many of you have indicated to us that you find it intimidating and contrary to the proper purposes of the exercise.

We do advise colleagues, in the light of recent legal advice, to engage in Performance Review 2017 when requested, but to make it clear that we do so ‘under protest’.  A brief statement to this effect could be included in the body of your PR form.  Please note that this advice supersedes the UCU advice circulated to members on 28 July.

In conclusion, we note that university management is currently constructing what they cheerfully describe as a ‘holistic performance management system’.  Holistic? It sounds innocuous. But consider all the implications of the word. We confidently predict that the aim is to integrate all of the data on individual colleagues that comes from diverse forms of appraisal:  from student questionnaires, from performance review, as well as from the REF and the TEF.  Collating this information opens the way to greatly enhanced forms of surveillance and control, with a formidable array of ‘triggers and responses’, as set out in recent documents that have been passed through Senate.

We remain convinced that eroding the confidentiality of Performance Review is one of the essential steps in this larger process. That is why we regard confidentiality as an issue of principle on which we are not prepared to back down.