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How Will International Students Be Affected By UK University Strikes?

University strikes in the United Kingdom have been a recurring occurrence owing to compensation and working-conditions disputes.

According to The Tab, UK university instructors may stop marking exams next month as part of broader UK university protests if salary and pension demands are not met. According to UCU, 68 institutions across the UK may go on strike this academic year after reballots revealed that workers at a further 12 universities voted in favor of starting industrial action in response to attacks on salary, pensions, and working conditions.

With more universities deciding to take industrial action, including Newcastle, Queen Mary, and Oxford Brookes, the University and College Union (UCU) has stated that if the issues are not addressed, further strikes will proceed this year, affecting an even bigger number of colleges and universities. UCU comprises approximately 130,000 academics, lecturers, trainers, instructors, researchers, managers, administrators, computer staff, librarians, and postgraduates working in UK universities, colleges, prisons, adult education, and training institutions.

UCU is requesting that employers reverse their 35 percent reduction to staff guaranteed pensions in order to settle the USS pension (primary pension scheme for universities and higher education institutions in the UK). The UCU is also calling for a 2,500-pound pay boost for all employees, as well as steps to address “unmanageable workloads, pay inequalities, and insecure contracts across the industry.”

Strikes will take place in 39 UK universities, including prestigious institutions such as Durham University, King’s College London, and the Open University (which has a big international student body); 24 institutions will strike only over wages, while five will strike only over pensions.

According to The Tab, UCU general secretary Jo Grady has stated that there is a plan to “start a marking boycott if employers continue to refuse to meet the requests of staff.”

“We do not take this action lightly, but university staff is tired of falling pay, cuts to pensions, unsafe workloads, and the rampant use of insecure contracts. We hope vice-chancellors finally see sense and address the long-standing concerns of staff. If they don’t, any disruption will be entirely their fault,” she said.

On top of the obstacles posed by the COVID-19 virus outbreak, the UK university strikes are likely to disrupt the study of many students, especially overseas students, this academic year. This involves a transition to online schooling, which has caused some students to complain that they aren’t getting what they paid for. Many students were also paying rent for apartments in which they were not residing.

The most recent round of UK university protests took place on campuses in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland between December 1 and December 3, 2021. According to The Guardian, university authorities accused UCU leftwingers of impeding progress toward a fair pension program. More than a million students were affected by walkouts at 58 UK institutions following the start of a three-day strike by professors.

A 14-day strike was called in February 2018 as a result of a disagreement over the UK university pension program.

Working on contractual terms and not participating in voluntary activities, not rescheduling classes and lectures postponed due to strike action, and not covering for absent colleagues are all examples of this. To end the USS pension conflict, the UCU is demanding that companies reverse their 35 percent cut to worker guaranteed pensions.

To address the wage and working conditions dispute, UCU is asking for a £2.5k salary raise for all employees, as well as steps to address the sector’s unmanageable workloads, pay inequity, and insecure agreements. This week, UCU branches and the UCU’s higher education committee will meet to discuss the next measures and action dates.

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