Bristol third year sets up petition to demand compensation for strike action

‘No-one was looking out for the students’

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Following the news that around 700 members of Bristol University are set to go on strike, one enterprising third year Philosophy student decided to create an online petition asking for compensation from missed lectures.

The student, whose identity is known to The Tab, has opted to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal from the University. However in a statement she said she was inspired to create the petition on 8th February after the one at the University of York received over 1,000 signatures.

Speaking to The Tab last night, she said: "I created the petition because consequent to having received little to no notification of the strike, once I became aware of the discussion around the strike that is occurring, it became clear to me that no-one was looking out for the students."

The petition has attracted 1000 views in six days

She continued: "As students in University and thus, paid education, we are consumers who are paying for a service. Namely, education in the form of lectures, seminars and tutorials, as this is being taken away from us it should automatically count as a defective service. It is unclear from the one email students have received from the University, how we are to be compensated for this inadequacy or how the consequences of the strike are to be alleviated.

"As a final year Arts student, with already a low number of contact hours and important deadlines, as I am sure is the case for students from other faculties also, the need for contact hours and faculty support is more important than ever. The University has provided little preparation or support in the lead up to the strike and instead, provided us with a reminder that "it is our responsibility to keep up with our studies to the best of our ability.

"We are aware that University work involves a large amount of independent study, but this response seems to be highly unsympathetic to our concerns and does not acknowledge the University's responsibility to ensure that we get the basic teaching requirements needed for assessment. Most of the responses students have been given with regard to our worries have been along the lines of simply 'having to miss out that question in the exam."

The UCU has called the strike over academic staff pensions

"From a student's perspective we see strike action as a valid response to the very important issues concerning university staff members, but this is just a reminder that it is our degrees that are at stake and as students, it is also difficult to be in our position."

In a general meeting of Bristol’s Universities and Colleges Union last month, more than 90 per cent of members voted for industrial action over proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme. These changes, proposed by Universities UK (UUK) could see a huge reduction in staff members’ pensions.

Some students, most notably the Bristol University Labour Society, have backed the strike, arguing forcefully: "A typical lecturer would lose £200,000 in retirement", and could deter future academics.

Bristol SU today released a statement backing striking lecturers and condemning the decision taken by the university to dock pay for staff taking “action short of a strike”.

Bristol SU have issued a statement supporting the strike

The statement further requested that Vice Chancellor Hugh Brady "make a statement publicly calling for UUK to go back to the negotiating table with UCU", and that students attend Annual Members Meeting to renew support for the striking lecturers.

Asked for comment, a University of Bristol spokesman told The Tab: "Following a UCU ballot, members voted for strike action in protest about the planned pension reform.  Negotiations are continuing at a national level between Universities UK and UCU. This is likely to affect our University, and dates for strike action have been confirmed.

"We anticipate that this will be disruptive for many students and we will do all we can to reduce the impact this might have on them. 
We will be communicating directly with all students throughout the industrial action. At this stage we do not know what the specific impact of the strike action will be."

The university have declined to offer refunds for cancelled lectures

They added: "We support the right of our staff to take strike action and make their voices heard. We know that they will not have taken this decision lightly as they are dedicated staff who want to provide the best possible teaching for their students.

"We have no plans to provide financial reimbursement for any specific missed teaching sessions due to industrial action. Student tuition fees pay for a wide range of student facilities and services, in addition to tuition, which will continue to be available."