Exclusive: Durham University retained over half a million in strike payroll last year

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A Freedom of Information Request (FOI) by Palatinate has found that the University retained over half a million in retained payroll finance from strike action last academic year, retaining a total of £552,877. 

Palatinate also confirmed that only two students received compensation for teaching lost to strikes last year, with neither receiving over £500.

Durham University has previously said that students could only claim compensation in extreme circumstances. On their website they said “Tuition fees contribute to a whole university experience and are not directly linked to specific contact or teaching hours.”

This exclusive comes after last term where the Durham Student’s Union and the University and College Union (UCU) campaigned for all retained payroll finance to be used towards student support. The University has not given 100% of retained payroll finance from strike action to student support since 2019, instead giving a proportion to Durham SU for student support. 

The retained payroll finance comes from strike action taken last academic year, which saw staff striking 14 days in December, February and March. Staff who strike receive a 100% dedication in pay for the days they take action. 

In a statement from the Durham UCU postgraduate branch, a representative said “At a time when the university has been cutting it’s doctoral funding scheme and when students have been struggling due to the cost-of-living crisis, it’s inconceivable that management would prefer to sit on half a million saved from not paying striking staff, than put it to good use supporting students and self-funded postgraduate researchers.

The retained payroll finance comes from strike action taken last academic year, which saw staff striking 14 days in December, February and March. Staff who strike receive a 100% dedication in pay for the days they take action

“Management must commit to diverting all strike deductions towards student financial support.”

A Durham University spokesman said: “Our approach to allocation of strike funds is to respond to specific needs when identified. We have proactively identified the cost-of-living crisis and student support as areas that require our attention.  

“We are making significant additional investments to support our students.   

“Through our Student Support Project, we are investing an extra £1.3million per year for student support. This money is already being invested in the recruitment of additional staff who will provide direct support to students. This includes 23.5 student support staff, 15.5 of whom will be based in Faculties and Departments, and 8 within the Student Support and Wellbeing Directorate (which includes the Counselling and Mental Health Service and Disability Support). A further 7.5 student support staff, who will be based in Colleges, are being recruited in the coming weeks.  

“This enhanced staffing is in addition to the existing provision already in place across the University. 

“We have increased the Durham Grant Scheme, which supports students from low-income households, by 10% this year and significantly widened eligibility for the maximum grant. We will increase it by up to 13.6% for 2023/24. 

We have increased the Durham Grant Scheme, which supports students from low-income households, by 10% this year and significantly widened eligibility for the maximum grant. We will increase it by up to 13.6% for 2023/24

Durham University

“We have more than doubled our Student Hardship Fund and now have an Instant Access Hardship Fund for students in need of immediate assistance, with up to £6,000 available per student per year.  

“A total of £6.6million is allocated for these key areas of support. 

“We have also uplifted stipends for all postgraduate research students who receive their stipends via the University by 10% at a cost of at least £340,000.”  

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One thought on “Exclusive: Durham University retained over half a million in strike payroll last year

  • When a student wins a place in Durham university they are are entering in to a contract with the university therefore the university staff by going on strike are breaking the terms of that contract therefore the students affected should be suitably reimbursed for any lost education.

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