An email from new Vice-Chancellor Peter Mathieson was sent out to all students this morning, outlining updates on the upcoming University and College Union (UCU) strikes over lecturers’ pensions.
Last month, the Universities UK (UUK) proposed an end to a significant part of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme. It is said that a typical lecturer would be left £10,000 a year worse off in retirement as a result of this drastic proposal.
Lecturers across 61 universities in the UK have thus agreed to take part in strike action, of which Edinburgh is included and will be greatly affected.
In response to an array of concerns from students regarding the strike, Mathieson wrote: “I take these concerns very seriously. One of my priorities in my first few weeks in my new role as your Principal will be to work with my colleagues to ensure we do our very best to minimise the impact on your learning and teaching.
“On the days of proposed strike action (26-28 February; 5-8 March; 12-16 March; and 19-20 March) we can expect to be functioning with fewer staff and so there may well be some disruption to some of you.”
Lectures, tutorials, seminars, lab work, assessments very well may be affected due to the strikes.
Mathieson continued: “As the root cause of the industrial action concerns a sector-wide pensions scheme, negotiations have been taking place at UK level between Universities UK, who represent the employers, and the University and College Union.
“We will continue to work closely with the other UK Universities to seek to find a negotiated settlement to this dispute.
“I know how important pension arrangements are for staff as part of overall remuneration and want to see an outcome which delivers a pensions package which staff see as attractive and which remains affordable and sustainable both for individuals and universities.”
Dr Hazel Gray, course organiser for Africa in the Contemporary World, is one of the many that will be taking part in the strikes. She expressed her frustration in her lecture this morning, explaining that there is indeed need for change to be made in the proposal on cuts in the pension scheme.
Lecturers who take part in the strike, Dr Gray explained, will not be paid, pointing to the potentially “scary” outcomes on a personal level.
Further updates and information are to be issued next week via channels including the following link: https://www.ed.ac.uk/student-administration/heaction
Image: Rosie Duckworth / Photographer