News in: The University and College Union (UCU) has just announced that university staff and lecturers will be going on strike for up to 10 days in February.
Unfortunately, students at 68 UK universities will be affected by the strike. That equates to more than one million students who face having lectures cancelled. It comes at a time when university students have already had studies disrupted by the pandemic and by previous strikes in the academic year. The union had previously staged a three-day strike that affected 58 UK universities.
University strikes: What’s it all about?
Firstly, the UCU is demanding for pension cuts to be reversed. This demand followed proposals put forward by University UK, for reform of the Universities Superannuation Scheme. Those who proposed the cuts said that it was necessary to reform in order to fill a funding gap, saying that the university pension scheme was still one of the best out there. However, the UCU say cuts will have a significant impact on staff’s retirement plans and quality of life.
In addition to pensions, the UCU is also calling for a pay increase for university staff. They are demanding a £2,500 pay increase for all staff across the UK. They also want other issues addressed such as pay gaps, workloads and unstable contracts.
In reference to the strikes, the general secretary of the UCU, Jo Grady has said:
“It is a damning indictment of the way our universities are managed that staff are being left with no option but to walk out again.
She said: “Any disruption that occurs will be the clearest indication yet that university bosses don’t value their staff.”
These are the dates of the university strikes in February 2022:
First: Monday 14 to Friday 18 February 2022: For disputes over pensions only.
Second: Monday 21st and Tuesday 22 February 2022: For pensions and pay disputes.
Third: Monday 28th February to Wednesday 2nd March 2022: For disputes over pay only.
What can be done?
Considering all of the other hurdles that university students have faced recently such as previous strikes, distance learning and mental health issues following the pandemic, it’s no surprise students are not happy about the upcoming strikes. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly absurd that students are still paying high university costs despite the minimal time spent on campus. But, what’s the answer?