University saved over £450,000 from last round of strikes

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Palatinate can reveal that the University saved £452,859.86 in eight days of UCU industrial action last year from staff pay deductions, working out at over £55,000 per day.

This term’s industrial action, at 14 days, is almost twice the length of last term’s strikes.

This sum was discovered by Palatinate via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. The University has not yet announced how the money will be spent, however it has said that “there will be full and transparent accounting at the end of the academic year.”

In response to Palatinate’s FOI, the University said: “£452,859.86 has been deducted to February in relation to the November and December returns”.

In a poll of over 3,000 students, Palatinate found last month that 70% of students want the University to remunerate them for the disruption caused to their timetables.

The University saved £55,000 per day of strikes

After the 2018 round of industrial action, which affected 65 universities, the University announced that it would put savings into the Student Hardship Fund, but no such announcement has been made as of yet. When polled on whether or not they favoured this course of action, just 15 of 3,168 said that they did, with most favouring direct, personal remuneration.

Other universities, such as the University of Sussex, have offered students sums of up to £100 each to compensate them for the “distress and inconvenience” caused by the strikes. According to The Guardian, Sussex said they were following advice from the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, with £40 for minor distress and inconvenience, increasing to £100 for significant distress and inconvenience.

70% of students want the University to remunerate them

Durham Students’ Union President previously told Palatinate: “We absolutely support the right of students to receive compensation, especially as it may strengthen the UCU’s power in negotiating for better pay and pensions for staff. Demanding compensation from the University can help shift the impact of industrial action away from students and onto the University, thereby increasing the pressure on the University to seek a swift resolution.”

The UCU industrial action is ongoing. Whilst it originally centred largely around slashes to staff pensions, in the strikes last year, other subjects also came to the fore, such as the ‘casualisation’ of work, the marketisation of the university sector, and BAME and gender inequality.

When asked whether the University intended to reimburse students affected by the strike action, Professor Alan Houston, Vice-Provost (Education) said “At this point in time, we do not know the precise impact of strike action on individual students. We are focusing our efforts on issues needing immediate attention, particularly putting place measures to ensure that students can meet the learning outcomes of the programmes on which they are registered.”

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