Exeter University staff set to strike over pension cuts

Written by Yasmine Woolven

The University and College Union are currently calling upon all its members for a strike starting on February 22nd. The proposed action which has been scheduled to last for four weeks, includes institutions such as, King’s, Exeter (all campuses), LSE and Oxbridge.

The University of Exeter has announced that many of its teaching staff will be partaking in this strike action, this will affect Exeter students predominantly in their learning.

The strike has been argued to be a necessary inconvenience in order to safeguard university staff’s pensions by the union. The current proposals would see a detrimental reduction of the annual retirement income by £10,000 a year on average.

The universities representatives, having initially proposed the complete elimination of the guaranteed pension, have refused to move towards an agreement in light of these proposals which is favourable to the union, resulting in 88% of UCU members voting to take strike action.

The average BA History student in the UK is expected to have 105 contact hours in a year. Based on the annual tuition fees of £9,250, the calculated cost per contact hour £88.10. If twelve hours of contact time is lost through academics and lecturers choosing to strike, then a sum of £1,057.20 per student, and this amount could be even higher for history students with two or more modules this semester.

Ultimately, due to the strike action, the students at including Exeter University and others within this union, will be paying for a service they will not be wholly receiving. Subsequently, there have been calls for the reimbursement of fees to students, due to lost teaching hours, Exeter University responded saying:

“At the present time, the University is not considering any form of reduction in fees or compensation”

One academic, who preferred to remain anonymous, saw this decision as “pure profit” in which the university will wrongly gain in financial terms, in the context of university staff campaigning for the security of their pensions. It has been argued that the lack of provision to still provide a service to students and protect the union members, would be seen to warrant a refund in other business transactions leading people to question, why it should be dissimilar in this case.