By Tania Chakraborti
Following a statement by Universities Minister Sam Gyimah, the University and College Union (UCU) have said they have an “incredibly strong mandate for further strikes” if the dispute between the UCU and Universities UK (UUK) could not be resolved.
UCU supported Mr Gyimah’s concern for disruption to students but stressed that further strikes could not be ensured without an improved offer.
In his statement released on Twitter today, Sam Gyimah MP stated that he was “deeply concerned about the impact this strike will have on students, who deserve to receive the education that they are paying for. For many, this is a vital time in their studies.
“I am speaking to both Universities UK (UUK) and the University and College Union (UCU). I call on them to get back to the negotiating table, without pre-conditions, and to find a solution that avoids further disruption to students.
“Where any strike action takes place, we expect universities to keep a close eye on the impact on students, and to put in place measures to maintain the quality of education that they should receive.”
In response to the Universities Minister’s statement, UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, stated: “We share the minister’s concerns about disruption to students’ education and want to resolve this dispute as soon as possible.
“However, we are clear that the only way this dispute will be sorted is with the employers presenting an improved offer.
“We have an incredibly strong mandate for 14 days of more strikes that will impact on the exam and assessment period. We know that students do not want universities to try and implement contingency plans to mitigate the impact of action – they want this dispute to be sorted.
“The most effective way to avoid further disruption is for the employers to come back to the table with a better offer.”
In January, on a turnout of 58%, a majority of 88% of UCU members voted to back strike action.
Photograph: Durham Student-Staff Solidarity