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University Strikes Set To Cause Disruption To Thousands Of Students

It's all because of a dispute with university employers.

24/05/2016 14:52 | Updated 24 May 2016

Students across the country face huge disruption caused by university strikes this summer, with the first day of action due to begin on Wednesday.

Undergraduates are set to be affected by delays in marking exam papers.

Meanwhile open days and graduations may also be changed, delayed or cancelled entirely, The Daily Mail reported.

David Wilcock/PA Archive
Members of UCU protest in Exeter, Devon during a mass walkout in 2010 (file photo)

University College Union (UCU), a trade union that represents university staff, is in dispute with the university employers over several issues.

It said "insecure employment" is a problem, with some 75,000 university staff on "casualised" contracts, over 21,000 of which are zero hours.

Gender inequality is also a problem, with male staff earning an average of 12.6% more than their female counterparts, the union said.

UCU added that pay declined by 14.5% in real terms since 2009.

Meanwhile, vice-chancellors are paid 6.4 time more than the average member of staff, it said.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: "A 1.1% pay offer is an insult to hardworking staff, especially in light of the five per cent pay rise vice-chancellors have enjoyed while holding down staff pay."

A UCU spokesman said of Wednesday's strike: "There will be disruption across UK universities this week with lectures cancelled and exams disrupted. Universities will need to deal with those problems and explain to students what they are doing."

A spokesperson for the University & Colleges Employers' Association said UCU's day of action on Wednesday would have "low to no" impact.

They said: "[Universities] know that the vast majority of their staff understand the current funding environment and can see that the final offer, with substantial extra for the lower paid, endeavours to be fair without putting additional jobs at risk."

"We would like to see UCU consulting its members on the final offer rather than seeking to take action that could damage institutions and harm their students," the association added.

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