Academics in revolt over new glass doors that “threaten privacy”


ACADEMICS at one of Scotland’s top universities are furious after their office doors were fitted with clear glass windows.

Edinburgh University says the glass panels will literally shine more light on the workings of professors and lecturers and create a “more welcoming environment”.

But academics have bitterly complained that the new windows are there to allow snooping students to check if they’re at their desks.

Staff reckon the “let there be light” policy represents an invasion of privacy – and one academic is reputed to have partially blocked his window with posters.

The programme of fitting glass to doors is being rolled out at the university’s school of history, classics and archeology.

Academics are seemingly unhappy with the decision
Academics are seemingly unhappy with the decision

One academic, who asked not to be named told an education magazine: “We were informed at school and departmental meetings that…the installation of the glass panels was to mitigate the effect of serried ranks of closed doors.”

The source said he and his colleagues had been told that the installation of glass was a bid to improve “student perceptions of our accessibility”.

According to the insider, the university took the step after academics declined to be more accessible. “Most colleagues have disobeyed earlier injunctions to leave their doors open,” he admitted.

University claims that the move is necessary on the grounds of health and safety have been ridiculed.

The source said: “No health and safety concerns were raised when these new heavy hardwood doors were installed at great expense in 2010.

“Any reference to health and safety concerns is an attempt to present the motivation [for these changes] in a different light and to make the initiative appear to be determined by external pressures.”

Another university insider confirmed: “I’ve heard from many history students that professors and lecturers have been complaining about the introduction of glass panes in doors.

“I think the consensus is that staff have set office hours when students are supposed to visit them.

“With the introduction of glass panes, students will be able to look into the rooms of staff outside of these hours, see if anybody is in, and then disturb them.”

One of the doors - complete with window
One of the doors – complete with window

Images from the university campus appear to show new glass windows incorporated into the existing doors.

One of the ten wooden panels of the door has been removed, and replaced with a square porthole-style window.

There are 90 members of academic staff in the history department of the university.

The department is housed in the west wing of the A listed Old Medical Building in Edinburgh’s Old Town.

The building was completely refurbished at a cost of £14m between 2009 and 2010.

In April staff at the university made similar complaints over “micromanagement” when a new staffing policy was introduced.

Under the new policy staff were required to report their whereabouts when they were working away from their offices.

A spokesman from Edinburgh University said: “There is no university-wide programme to refit all office doors with glass panels.

“However, small glass panels are being introduced on office doors in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology to help improve compliance with health & safety and fire security.

“These small glass panels will have the added benefit of introducing greater natural light into central foyer areas, creating a more welcoming environment for staff and students alike.”