April 27, 2018

University of Sussex staff to walk out in pensions row

23 February 2018, 10:18 | Virginia Santiago

Georgia Davies says students are being “cheated” by a “systematically unfair” system as Amelia Horgan calls for “solidarity”

Students Georgia Davies and Amelia Horgan have their say on the strikes

Tens of thousands of United Kingdom researchers are expected to walk out of their universities on 22 February in a nationwide strike over pensions that is likely to disrupt scientific experiments, conferences and lectures. The rest were undecided. Parts of that university's research computing service could be affected because anything that requires human intervention "will be hampered by these strikes", Owain Kenway, who runs a computing team at UCL, wrote on Twitter. Two comments capture polarised opinions.

The situation is very different now, though: "However, this strike isn't inconveniencing the universities, as they are benefiting financially from our tuition fees, but rather the students".

"I am speaking to both UUK and the UCU. It is incredibly detrimental to our learning and I believe that it is hugely selfish of the teachers". So far, so obvious.

"What the people striking want is a decent future, not just for themselves, but for the education system as a whole".

Concerns have also been raised that non-EU global students, who pay much higher fees than European Union and United Kingdom students, are shouldering an unfair financial burden as a result of the strike. "As an worldwide student I am paying lots of money to study in a "good" university".

A spokesman said: "UUK remains at the negotiating table, but so far UCU has refused to engage on how best to address the funding challenges facing USS". "We don't want to be on strike", she says.

That last comment perfectly encapsulates the opposing views held by students. "The University will be open as usual during the action and many academic and support activities will continue to operate as normal".

The strike has gained support from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and other lawmakers from his party.

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A spokesperson for the University of Sussex said: "Our focus is on minimising any disruption to our students' education".

"There shouldn't have to be a strike".

There will be 14 days of escalating walkouts over the next four weeks.

The union has a mandate to take industrial action up until July 19, which covers the period when exams are being taken by students and marked.

He said there had "almost unanimous" support from students about the action. "The time has come for UUK to listen to the many voices telling them to start talking". Hundreds of students have signed petitions, including one initiated by Socialist Students, critical of the Leeds uni vice-chancellor's stance of not doing anything about the dispute, alleging that he has "no influence". It worries me as this [is] a part of my degree.

Speaking to Varsity, an anonymous global student expressed her frustration over both the conditions that forced staff to strike and its financial cost: "As an worldwide student paying extortionate fees, I find it disgusting that the staff have been driven to this necessity, and if possible will be contacting the university for reimbursement". It's not fair and I demand my money back.

He added: "It is not against the lecturers, we support them in their endeavour".

However, it is important to note that this should not be a fight between students and lecturers.

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