UCU The Universities and Colleges Union (UCU), the union that represents staff—who called for the strike.
UUK The Universities UK, the organisation, manages the pension scheme, named Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), and represents universities to negotiate with UCU.
UUK has proposed the new change of Universities Superannuation Scheme due to a £17.5 billion deficit.
The new change is to replace the “defined benefit” pension schemes with “defined contribution” pension schemes for staff whose annual income is under £55,000. The previous pension schemes provide a guaranteed earning after retirement, but the total income staff could receive from the new pension system depends on profit from investment in the stock market. This update may put staff income under risk. UCU stated that staff could lose as much as a £200 thousand income if the “defined benefit” was pension scheme applied.
Alan Smith, the Local UCU branch administrator of the University of Leeds, said: “The union believed the pension scheme isn’t in deficit and the Calculation of the UUK was incorrect.”
Facing such conditions, the UCU called for a vote to launch this strike, and 61 universities voted to join this activity including, The University of Leeds, University College London, Oxford, Cambridge, etc.
The schedule of the 14 days strike:
- 22nd and 23nd February
- 26th- 28th February
- 5th -8th March
- 12th-16th March
UCU may continue this strike since UCU and UUK haven’t reached a final settlement. To know more about Alan Smith’s response to this Strike:
UK university strikes over summer exam period called off https://t.co/sMDD3P3BmN— Financial Times (@FT) April 13, 2018
How about other Universities?
Not all UK Universities applied for a USS pension scheme, which is managed by the private sector. For example, the pension system of The University of Westminster is managed by the public sector. The staff of these universities would not be affected by this change.
How has the UUK responded to UCU?
Currently, UUK is planning more and urgent talks with UCU to end this action. But before this strike, a spokeswoman of UUK responded that the member of UCU only accounts for 16% of academic staff in 61 universities, although the vote was passed in 61 out of the 68 universities.
What's the response of the students?
Students mainly have two responses to this strike. One, almost half of their semester is disrupted by the strike, and many students seek for the tuition refund. King’s College London has set up the fund to compensate students whose lectures were cancelled. Another reply is that some students support teachers’ action and help them fight with universities, such as students at the University of Leeds.
Know more about the strike here.