- March 5, 2018
- Posted by: Sunsea International College
- Category: Latest News
Sources : thepienews.com
Lecturers at some UK universities walked out on 22 February, and strike action will continue intermittently until 16 March. This industrial action will affect all international students at the named institutions (a full list can be found at the end of this article).
The strike will continue on March 5, 6, 7 & 8, and will end with a full week of strikes from March 12-16.
UCU members are partaking in the series of strike over changes to their USS pension scheme.
The union, which represents over 110,000 academics, lecturers, staff and postgraduates in British universities and colleges, says it is striking in protest against employers wanting to end guaranteed pension benefits.
It states that employers want pensions to depend on the performance of investments rather than employees contributions.
The walk out also involves action short of a strike where it asks members to work to contract, not cover for absent colleagues, reschedule cancelled lectures and classes or undertake voluntary activities.
Negotiations have been ongoing for at least 12 months, between the UCU and the British universities body UUK, regarding this pensions impasse.
The Joint Negotiating Committee reached a decision on reforms in January, but this was not enough to dissuade the union from taking action.
A UUK spokesperson told The PIE News the USS scheme has an increasingly large deficit, and change is needed.
“The USS pension scheme has a deficit of £6.1 billion and the cost of future pensions benefits has increased by one third since 2014. To maintain current benefits overall contributions would have to increase by approximately £1 billion every year. We hope that employees recognise that changes are necessary to put the scheme on a secure footing, and that the proposed strike action will only serve to unfairly disrupt students’ education,” they said.
“Universities are committed to making pensions contributions of 18% of salaries. This allows them to continue to offer attractive and sustainable pensions to their employees under the proposed changes to USS,” the spokesperson added.
Students have voiced fears over the possible effects of the industrial action, with some worried that degrees may be affected if exams and assessments are affected.
In a joint statement with the UCU, National Union of Students president Shakira Martin said the students’ union stood alongside lecturers and staff.
“As representatives of students, NUS is worried that the imposition of these cuts in the face of sector wide opposition will lead to a demotivated and unhappy workforce and consequent recruitment and retention problems as staff vote with their feet and move elsewhere,” the statement read.
UUK have attempted to reassure students that HEIs should have practices in place to avoid this, and students should not worry.
It has also specifically addressed international students, saying although contact points may be cancelled during this time, universities should communicate this to visa authorities and “The strike action should not negatively impact your visa status”.
According to sources, however, The PIE understands that some international students have been seen attempting to attend cancelled classes during the strike. It is not clear whether such students understand the strike action, or the implications to their immigration status.
On Thursday, the vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge Stephen Toope, released a statement asking for both sides to return to the negotiating table, declaring that “The current situation cannot go on.”
Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, responded by welcoming Toope’s comments.
“Professor Toope is right to say things cannot go on as they are. We would argue they never should have been allowed to get this far in the first place. It is important we all move forward to Monday’s talks looking to resolve this dispute,” she said.
Unions across the world have sent messages of support. These unions include the German Education Union, ATE CONICET in Argentina, Rutgers Council of AAUP Chapters in the US, Canadian Association of University Teachers and National Tertiary Education Union in Australia.
Full list of universities affected by industrial action
|Aberdeen, University of|
|Bath, University of|
|Birkbeck College, University of London|
|Bristol, University of|
|Cambridge, University of|
|City, University of London|
|Courtauld Institute of Art|
|Dundee, University of|
|East Anglia, University of|
|Edinburgh, University of|
|Essex, University of|
|Exeter, University of|
|Glasgow, University of|
|Goldsmiths, University of London|
|Hull, University of|
|Imperial College London|
|Institute of Education|
|Kent, University of|
|King’s College London|
|Lancaster, University of|
|Leeds, University of|
|Leicester, University of|
|Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine|
|Liverpool, University of|
|London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine|
|Manchester, University of|
|Nottingham, University of|
|Oxford, University of|
|Queen Mary, University of London|
|Queen’s University Belfast|
|Reading, University of|
|Royal Holloway, University of London|
|Royal Veterinary College, University of London|
|Salford, University of|
|Senate House, University of London|
|Sheffield, University of|
|SOAS, University of London|
|Southampton, University of|
|St Andrews, University of|
|Stirling, University of|
|Strathclyde, University of|
|Surrey, University of|
|Sussex, University of|
|University College London|
|Scottish Association for Marine Science at University of the Highlands and Islands|
|University of Wales|
|University of Warwick|
|University of York|