University staff to undertake marking boycott

IT WAS announced on the 27th of October that academics at 69 higher education institutions will begin an assessment boycott from the 6th November after a ballot by the University and College Union (UCU).

The action follows a ballot of UCU members about potential industrial action over proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme, in which 87 per cent of members who voted said they backed action short of a strike.

In the ballot,  the results of which were announced last Monday (20th October), 78% of members of the UCU who voted said they supported strike action over changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme.UCU-logo

The turnout of 45% was the highest in a national higher education ballot since UCU was formed in 2006, the union said.

The union said it was unhappy that employers had presented their proposals as a fait accompli and had failed to address criticisms of the proposed scheme.

UCU negotiators claimed employers had “failed to provide a guarantee the employers were making any effort to protect the pensions of USS members”.

Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, said:

“The employers failed to convince us of the need for their dramatic changes or the reasons behind the methodology for its deficit reduction plan. Their proposals remain full of holes and the information they are apparently relying on to back them up keeps being exposed as misleading.”

A Universities UK spokesman said it was “disappointed that the UCU has decided to pursue a damaging course of industrial action aimed directly at disrupting students’ education” and added that “Taking industrial action will not make the substantial scheme deficit and the risks to the future viability of the scheme go away.”

How this action will affect students here remains to be seen.

More to follow – A more detailed report on this story, including quotes from the University and Students’ Union, will be published in the upcoming November edition of The Courier.