UCU university strikes – how it is affecting students

More than 70,000 university staff have gone on strike this week over pay and pensions, causing disruption to up to 2.5 million students across the UK. Staff going on strike include lecturers, librarians and researchers, as well as administrators, security cleaners and catering staff. 

Students – some of whom have supported previous strike action by university staff – could face lectures being cancelled or rearranged. While the national union of Students is supporting the strikes for the most part, some students are concerned about missing classes and feel they are not getting a good “deal” because of the disruption. “We are paying customers, we’re not getting what we paid for” – Billie Early, University of Sussex. 

The University of Sussex said it was “very concerned” about its students, and that they would take measures to “minimize the impact of the strike” including rescheduled teaching and extra materials.

Another student from University college London Rachel Gaida said she supported the strikes, but was concerned there would be more to come.  

“How much is three days going to disrupt my education? If they’re at this point where things are so bad they feel they need to do this, then fair enough,” she said. 

“The more I hear about it, the more I hear that it’s potentially a long-term thing. “It worries me a little bit, but… they need pensions, they need stable income.” 

Universities UK, which represents employers under the University Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension fund, said: “We appreciate this could be a difficult time for students, who may be anxious about possible disruption to their learning. 

“Universities are well prepared for industrial action and will put in place a series of measures to protect students’ education, as well as other staff and the wider community.”

Despite the disruption to lectures and concerns from some students, the majority of students are supporting the strikes. Chloe Field, National Union of Students vice president for higher education, said: “Students stand in solidarity with university staff going on strike.  

“We have always been clear that staff working conditions are students’ learning conditions, and for more than a decade both have come under attack from a sector that puts profits above education.”

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