UK students protest cancelled lectures as 74 universities staff strikes

UK students are staging protests over the proposed 14 days of strike action from university staff, which will reportedly disrupt their exams, dissertations, and coursework.

The students are demanding a percentage of their tuition fees to be refunded due to the upcoming strikes. The strike is slated to run from 20 February to 13 March.

According to the University and College Union (UCU), more than a million students could be affected by the second wave of walkouts at 74 university staff across the UK.

This comes after tens of thousands of university staff took part in an eight-day strike action involving 60 universities during November and December last year, which saw lectures, tutorials and seminars canceled.

Jo Grady, general secretary of the UCU, has warned that even more UK students across the country will be affected by the planned strikes action this term following a series of re-ballots.

She said:

If universities want to avoid further disruption they need to deal with rising pension costs, and address the problems over pay and conditions.

UK students demand compensation

Notably, days after the announcement of recent strikes action, UK students at universities facing walkouts, including York, Leicester, and Sheffield Hallam, launched petitions calling for refunds for lost teaching time.

Tom Barton, a third-year student at Sheffield Hallam University, who launched a petition for compensation on behalf of Sheffield Hallam students, said he would be left without one-to-one feedback on his dissertation and coursework for two weeks.

A petition, which currently has attracted over 6,000 signatures, calls for each student to be given more £860 each in compensation for the lost teaching time, and it adds that deadlines should be extended.

UK students have estimated that 14 days of strikes could again impact up to 9.3 percent of their studies, costing them an estimated £863 in wasted tuition fees.

The number is based on dividing the cost for a British student’s fees by 150 days of teaching, while fees for international students are even higher.

Claire Sosienski Smith, vice president for higher education at the National Union of Students (NUS), said, Students have a right to be angry about the lack of progress on the discussions between UK institutions and the staff who teach and support them, day in and day out.

Bryony Clarke, a geography student at the University of Leicester said UK students pay school fees and if the university won’t deliver they should be refunded their money back.

Sosienski added that the student union supports and stands in full solidarity with university staff who are embarking on strike action.

Also, another petition calling for compensation from the University of Leicester has received over 1,200 signatures since it was started about 24 hours ago.

Universities reaction to the protest

The University of Leicester said they are committed to ensuring that students receive the highest quality education and that staff has the best working environment.

Leicester noted that it is in no position to consider claims for compensation or refunds as the effect of the proposed industrial action on individual students is not known.

Leicester also added that it would be taking action to mitigate the effects of the action where possible.

Adding that many staff will be working and therefore, a significant number of lectures and classes will take place as usual.