Walkouts at 61 universities, including the University of Kent, are set to go ahead in the next coming weeks because of changes to lecturer’s pension plans.
On January 22, the University and College Union (UCU) announced 14 days of strikes during February over employers’ plans to downgrade lecturer’s and staff’s future pensions. The University of Kent is one many universities participating in the strike, with many students’ lectures and seminars likely to be affected by the decision.
The strike dates have been confirmed at the University of Kent, in the form of 14 days of escalating strike action over a four weeks period. Strikes will start with two days of action in week one rising to five days in week four. Other action may include other UCU members refusing to undertake voluntary duties, to cover for absent colleagues, or to reschedule lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action.
A spokesperson for the university has said: “We very much regret the decision taken by UCU. It is unclear how many of our colleagues will join this action. We will keep under review the potential impact of this action on student progress and the ways any such impact may be mitigated”.
Student response to the strike has been mixed. There is widespread support among students for their lecturers’ industrial action, with the National Union of Students (NUS) and UCU issuing a joint statement condemning the “marketisation of education” and warning that cuts to lecturers’ pensions would lead to a recruitment crisis.
Other students, however, are concerned that this strike will impact their studies. A UCU spokesman said: “Students are understandably worried about what will happen, and angry that their universities appear to be doing absolutely nothing to avert the most disruptive strike action ever seen on UK campuses. As students are being treated as consumers by the government, it is unsurprising that they are unhappy a service they feel they are paying for is not being provided and some are seeking redress.”
As yet, no compensation has been agreed on, and it is unclear exactly what impact this will have on students’ studies.
Here at the University of Kent, a petition has been started by students who wish to show their support for their lecturers over this difficult time. It currently has nearly 2,000 signatures.
Kent Union has also issued a statement and written an open letter to the Vice Chancellor, urging her to minimise the effect the strike action has on students. However, this letter is in contrast to the NUS’s statement, which stands by the UCU’s decision for more disruptive and impactful action.
For more information about the strikes, click here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/strikeforuss