Disruption and lost contact hours: UCU strikes continue at City University

Student occupation
Students occupy Professor Sir Paul Curran's office during strikes at City, University of London. Credit: Thomas Kilroy

City University strikes are set to continue until tomorrow after UCU members overwhelmingly rejected Universities UK’s new pension offer. This has left hundreds of students without contact hours.

Reviewed proposals

“The offer wasn’t good enough so we’ve decided to return to strike,” said Rebecca Lewis, President of the UCU City branch“Now they will have seen that we’re serious.”

Only two members out of more than 50 who attended the meeting last week supported the offer. The proposal would have reduced their fixed pension income and required higher contributions from their salary.

Struggling university departments

According to City Students’ Union, among the worst affected departments are the School of Arts and Social Science, the School of Health Sciences, and the Law School. SASS offers degrees in  economics, politics and journalism. SHS trains new NHS workers.

City SU estimates that more than 75 per cent of contact hours have been lost at SASS.

If a new pensions agreement is not reached strikes may continue into the student exam period, disrupting assessments and “devaluing” degrees.

Taking it to the President

President of City University, Sir Paul Curran, said that the strikes were “regrettable”. In an email that circulated today, he said that City had “supported” the new pension offer. Fifteen students occupied his office today, demanding the UCU’s demands are met. Our reporter, Thomas Kilroy, live streamed the occupation via Twitter.

“It’s a bit disruptive for my work but they’re nice,” said an office worker. “They’ve offered me a doughnut.”

Prospective Students’ Union President Kristina Perelygina also attended.

Where’s the money going?

The University has saved thousands of pounds due to the strike. This may be reimbursed through alternative contact hours and contributions to the Student Hardship Fund.

Olesea Matcovschi, President of City Students’ Union, said: “We think a portion will go to inviting visiting lecturers to recover lost hours and then if there’s any left it may go to the Student Hardship Fund, which is there to help low income students.”

Rising concerns

Students are concerned about the strike, which may continue into next week, affecting exams.

“We’ve lost ten hours at least,” said student Tara Mcweeney, who’s on an NHS-funded Speech Therapy course. “Just get it sorted!”

“I’m really concerned about how this will affect our placements,” said Megan Berrisford-Green, on the same course. “The thought of going to a marked placement and being asked to do something that we weren’t taught due to the strike is quite terrifying,” she said.