UK universities face striking and students calls for compensation

Updated 2018-02-22 10:53:03

Universities in the UK will face a 14-day strike by lecturers starting from Thursday, which is estimated to hit 61 universities and over a million of students in the next four weeks.

Lecturers will take strike action by stopping teaching and marking, which will cause the cancellation of final exams and delay graduation ceremonies across the country.

The reason why lecturers decided to take strike action was due to their opposition to the proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), which is one of the largest pension schemes for universities and other higher education institutes in UK.

As reported by The Guardian, Universities UK (UUK) has proposed that, in order to overcome the deficit in the USS pension scheme, the fund will be moved from a defined-benefit scheme that provides a guaranteed retirement income with lecturers to a risker defined-contribution plan, where pension income is subject to stock market movements.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) supported the industrial action.

The proposed change to the pension scheme is expected to result in nearly 200,000 pounds (280,000 US dollars) pension loss for each lecturer after retirement in total.

Students are the most likely affected group by the severe strike and almost 70,000 students have signed petitions demanding compensation from their universities, according to The Guardian.

UCU pointed out that the undergraduates will be hit most by the strike, losing an estimated 575,000 teaching hours which will not be rescheduled, reported by The Guardian.

UK's top universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Exeter, Imperial College London and Bristol will be affected.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU, warned that if the solution of pensions couldn't be found, the strike would continue to hit the universities in the next few months.

However, Chris Forde, a professor of employment studies at Leeds University and a UCU member, said: "None of the students are explicitly critical of the stance taken by lecturers. The students seem to be taking it up with their universities. They want their fees compensated and they want them to get back to the negotiating table."

Although students sympathized for the situation of their teachers, they were still upset that they would be left alone by the universities.

A third-year student in Sussex University told The Guardian that she felt unacceptable for having no assistance in the 14 days over four weeks for her most important education term.

International students in UK, including Chinese students, are also the victims of the strike due to their highly expensive tuition fees.

"Our losses are threefold comparing to those of the UK and EU students as we paid higher tuition fees." a Chinese student studying in Liverpool University said, "In 14 days we will lose about 3000 pounds (4,183 US dollars)."

Many universities in UK have issued their petition online with tens of thousands of students signed.

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