By Helena Snider
Students in the Northern region are demanding compensation for lost hours of teaching caused by strikes this past year.
5,000 students have already signed up to a class action group seeking compensation for classes cancelled this year. This number includes more than 400 students from Durham University, around 100 from Newcastle and 50 from York.
The strikes began in February and March after members of the University and College Union (UCU) went on strike. This resulted in weeks of missed lectures and seminars.
The UCU says the strikes impacted around a million students, with a total loss of 575,000 teaching hours.
The law firm behind the group action, Asserson, says the claim has risen to £5m.
Shimon Goldwater, a senior solicitor at Asserson, said it was one of the largest student group legal actions ever to have been launched in the UK.
He stated: “The compensation claim against universities is building rapidly.
“Students are telling us that they have been following advice from their unions and the universities to use standard complaints procedures when asking for compensation, with absolutely no sign of progress.
“In fact, we have not heard of a single instance of a student receiving proper financial compensation for cancelled teaching time.
“Universities are presumably hoping that this problem will go away, but this claim shows that thousands of students are not willing to sit by and pay for a service which was cancelled.”
Analysis of the sign-ups to the class action group shows Durham had the second highest number of students taking part.
Asserson has estimated Russell Group universities saved around £8m in salaries from striking staff.
Photograph: Durham Student-Staff Solidarity