February 22, 2018

British University Lecturers Begin Nationwide Strike over Changes to Pensions

LONDON, ENGLAND—British university lecturers have begun a series of actions against proposed changes to their pensions with a strike. Sally Weale, The Guardian’s education correspondent, reports that the February 22 walkout is the first of fourteen actions organized over the next month by the University and College Union, which represents lecturers at sixty-five universities across the United Kingdom. The strike is estimated to impact more than one million students and result in the loss of more than half a million teaching hours.

UCU called for the strike in response to the plan by Universities UK, an advocacy group for higher education employers, to shift lecturer pensions from a benefit scheme to a contribution-based scheme tied to the stock market. The UCU has argued this could result in the loss of £10,000 of pensions per year per lecturer, with younger lecturers standing to lose the most.

Sam Gyimah, minister of universities, science, research and innovation, has urged both sides to negotiate out of a concern for students “who deserve to receive the education that they are paying for.” Three-fifths of students support of the UCU’s actions and calls for compensation for students over lost teaching hours have been made. The strike coincides with increased scrutiny on university administration pay as student debt burdens and tuition costs have increased nationwide, to £9,250 per year.

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