Over 1 million students to be impacted by up to 10 days of university staff strikes 

Next month university staff are set to walk out for up to 10 days of strike action in two disputes over pensions and pay & working conditions.

The University and College Union (UCU) has labelled the strikes a “fight for the future of higher education” with staff at “breaking point” after a decade of cuts to pensions, falling pay and worsening working conditions. 

Over 50,000 university staff are expected to walkout with over one million students set to be impacted.

In pensions, proposals from employers mean staff face a 35% cut to their guaranteed retirement income. The UCU says this pay and working conditions dispute is also related to an over 20% real term pay cut over the past 12 years.

The union is meeting with employer representatives, Universities UK (UUK), on Friday 11 February. To resolve the pension dispute UCU is demanding employers revoke the cuts to staff pensions and formally accept the union’s counter proposals.

To resolve the pay & working conditions dispute UCU is demanding a £2.5k pay increase for all staff, as well as action to tackle unmanageable workloads, pay inequality and the use of insecure and exploitative contracts.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady 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. For a sector that is worth tens of billions of pounds and enjoys record levels of student growth it is beyond disgraceful that in return staff get vicious pension cuts, falling pay and are pushed to breaking point under deteriorating working conditions.

NUS national president Larissa Kennedy said: ”We will continue to stand with staff in their struggles because nothing about this broken system is inevitable”.

”As students, we are acutely aware that staff working conditions are our learning conditions. The same education system that forces students into food banks exploits staff on insecure contracts, with some even having to sleep in tents while they mark our essays. The same system that produces awarding gaps that impact students of colour produces pay gaps that impact staff of colour.”

However many students are frustrated by the decision. A graduate student at University College London, one of the 68 universities where staff are set to walk out, told politics.co.uk this afternoon: “Students have already had years of disrupted teaching for degrees which are hugely expensive. Strikes affect students more than anyone else – why should we have to suffer for a dispute between academics and the universities?

“These strikes have been ongoing for years and haven’t solved anything, so the fact that UCU supports such action is disappointing (although unsurprising). Students deserve better.”