Striking lecturers threaten maximum disruption to exam season

Just what might student class action mean for universities? (Stock image)

The union behind the lecturers’ strike at the University of Kent is vowing to cause maximum disruption during the coming exam season.

Industrial action means students in their final years of study face delays in the publication of exam results which could affect employment or travel plans.

The University and College Union (UCU) is drawing up a list of dates when the 65 institutions affected have their busiest days.

Lecturers are striking because they say a new deal on pensions will leave them £10,000 worse off.

Talks between the UCU and the UK Universities, which represents vice-chancellors, stalled this week when union members rejected an offer put to them.

Sally Hunt of the UCU is urging her members not to work on exam papers

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said the union would be calling on its members not to moderate the exam papers of other universities.

She said: “We are calling on external examiners to resign their positions at those universities in dispute over plans to slash staff pensions.

“External examiners ensure the rigorous quality standards in our universities, which must be upheld.

“No student or university will want the quality of their degree called into question, so we advise universities’ representatives to get back round the table with us as soon as possible to get this dispute resolved.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Toope, the vice-chancellor of Cambridge University, has blamed the commercialisation of tertiary education for the strike.

He said: “Reducing students to mere consumers makes sense only if the value of universities is simply economic. That would be a fundamental error.

“Universities have helped successive generations to achieve their potential in these places of breathtaking discovery and disruptive insight.

“For a generation politicians have talked as if UK universities are broken, in need of market discipline.

“We are beginning yet another higher education review that fails to get to the heart of concerns around universities. The focus should be on what values our society expects to see reflected in our universities, not only value for money.”


  1. Correction: pension reform in its proposed firm would leave staff £10,000 _per year_ worse off, at an average loss of £200,000 over the course of retirement. The article reads as of it were only £10,000 in total.


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