Students at the University of Kent are having their studies affected by the 14-day UCU strike. Staff at 74 Universities are striking over pensions, pay and conditions.
The University and College Union is holding strikes between 20 February and 13 March and has estimated more than a million students will be affected, although this number is debatable as there are probably a lot that would not turn up for lectures anyway.
The UCU says 50,000 of its members will take the action over workloads, pay, a 15% gender pay gap, increased casualisation and changes to pensions for staff in the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). The union is angry members are now having to pay 9.6% in pension contributions, up from 8%, and wants universities to pay the full increase instead.
In addition to striking, union members are taking other forms of industrial action, including working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost during the strikes. Nothing like putting the students first and there we were being told that teaching is a vocation, not an occupation.
its not a surprise that they do not strike during the long holiday periods
University of Southampton president and vice-chancellor Prof Mark Smith, who chairs the UCEA, said: “We are very sorry for the impact industrial action has on students’ study. The association says employers have increased their pension contributions from 18% to 21.1% of salary, paying in an extra £250m each year. That is one heck of a pension compared to the average UK workers pension of 5%.
An online survey, published by The Student Room earlier this week, suggests 47% of students think it is right for lecturers to strike – which is actually less than half. But it is not surprising that some students are happy to get more time off – it’s a bit like turkeys voting to ban Christmas.
Other students, who are coming up to crucial exams have slammed the timing of the strikes. Not only are they annoyed that it may affect their chances, they are angry that they have paid over £9,000 for courses, only to miss important lectures and contact time. The strikers have advised that students can apply for course fee refunds at wedontgiveadamn.com