Michele Theil reports that the UCU strike action could extend until the end of the current academic year.
There are plans in motion to escalate the strikes into university exam season in April, May and June. As of February 21, there has been no resolution to the dispute between universities and the University and College Union (UCU) over the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) that would leave lecturers losing an estimated £10,000 to their pension.
The General Secretary of the UCU, Sally Hunt, has warned that there is a possibility of strike action being extended if negotiations are not successful in seeking a resolution to the pension dispute. The extension of strike action would lead into exam season, with the potential to disrupt exams for all students, but with a particularly strong impact on final year students.
She said that she wouldn’t “rule that off the table at this point in time”. Hunt added that they may look at action being extended even into the Autumn term of the next academic year.
The UCU’s higher education committee will meet on March 2 to discuss the strike action and to look into whether further strikes are needed.
It has been reported that over 1 million students around the UK would be affected by the strikes, with over 500,000 teaching hours being lost.
Today (Thursday February 22) has marked the first day of strike action by academic staff around the country. Hunt has said that the strike action “will be ongoing until we find a resolution”.
An extension of the strike action into exam season could actually lead to the cancellation of final-year exams, which would leave univiersities uncertain of how to award degree classifications.