Student anger directed at UUK

Student representatives from students’ unions from across the UK, including national NUS and NUS Scotland officers, have today written to the Independent laying the blame for the current action firmly on university managements and Universities UK.

The National Union of Students has also issued a briefing paper which reiterates its standing policy to support industrial action by UCU and which says ‘we now urgently need to see both sides getting round the table and negotiating a fair and sustainable agreement’.

Letter as published on the Independent’s website:

From today, academic staff at 69 UK higher education institutions are set to begin a marking boycott; the next step in ongoing industrial action by the University and College Union. The proposed changes to pensions that have led to this action will cost university staff thousands of pounds a year in lost benefits and create inequality between institutions.

Since 2009, average academic pay has fallen by 14.5 per cent, while vice-chancellor salaries increased by 5.1 per cent in the past year alone. The average gender pay gap in higher education is 17 per cent, and 53 per cent of universities employ staff on zero-hours contracts.

Students are angry that this boycott is happening. But our anger is aimed squarely at university managements and Universities UK, who oversee lucrative salary increases for vice-chancellors while leaving staff out in the cold.

Any draconian response from universities – such as the legally dubious threat of withdrawing the full salary for those partaking in a boycott – will be met with discontent from students and staff, who are united on this issue.