U.S. Markets open in 53 mins

Universities braced for compensation claims as reveal plans to limit the impact of lecturers’ strikes

Camilla Turner
Lecturers and other university staff will begin an eight day walk out on Monday -

Universities are braced for compensation claims as reveal their plans to limit the impact of lecturers’ strikes.

Over a million students face disruption as academics from 60 universities signed up to strike over their pay and pension.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) voted to back strike action in two ballots over pensions and pay and working conditions.

Lecturers and other university staff will begin an eight day walk out on Monday. The union has been locked in a battle with Universities UK, which represents vice-Chancellors, over proposed pension reforms to address a reported deficit and rising benefit costs.

As students begin to call for compensation over lost teaching time, university chiefs have moved to reassure them that extra lecture notes and online resources will be provided.

Speaking on behalf of the universities which are caught up in the dispute, Carol Costello, said: “We really appreciate that this is an upsetting time for students and each university is making its independent arrangements to ensure as best as we possibly can that students are not affected by this industrial action.

“What that would mean is we will be keeping students informed of what’s going on, we will ensure that we are replacing lectures, we are providing lecture notes for them, and also that student support services are available for students to go to if they’re really worried about it.”

Ms Carol said that any compensation claims would be considered by universities on a case by case basis. “If [students] felt that the university hadn’t made appropriate arrangements then they would need to put in a request to their university for compensation,” she said.

“Each university has to consider that independently and they would look at whether or not there had been any breach in the contractual relationship between themselves and the student in respect of any partial or full compensation.” Hundreds of students at Bangor University have already started a petition calling for reimbursement for lost teaching time.

“As students, we support our lecturers who choose to take industrial action to protect their- and our- futures and interests,” their petition says.

“However, we feel that we should be compensated by Bangor University for the fact that we are missing time from our education as a result of the University's attitudes towards its staff.”

They have calculated that based on £9,000 a year tuition fees, each student should be reimbursed £380.

Jo Grady, the UCU general secretary said: “It is quite staggering that the employers have allowed things to get to this stage and done so little to avoid the upcoming disruption.

“Instead of engaging seriously with us over the various elements of the disputes, they have been all spin and no substance.”