Brookes VC expects students to ‘suffer’ if staff take striking action

He claims it’s the ‘last thing’ students need right now

Oxford Brookes University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Alistair Fitt has said of students will “suffer” if staff at universities go on strike at the end of the year, claiming that it’s the “last thing” students need after studying during the pandemic.

His comments were made after members of the University and College Union (UCU) voted in two ballots, one about pensions and one about pay and working conditions.

According to the Oxford Mail, 76 per cent of members backed strikes for the pensions ballot, with 88 per cent wanting action short of strikes. In the ballot about pay and working conditions, 70.1 per cent of member were in favour of strikes, with 84.9 per cent backing action short of strikes.

The threat of strikes come after Universities UK put forward a proposal for pension cuts, to support funding for the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), which the UCU claims could see pensions reduced by 35 per cent for members.

According to the Oxford Mail, Professor Fitt said: “We’re very sorry that once again the students might be about to suffer because the union does not agree with the way that pension schemes are run and regulated in this country.

“Now of course we respect the right of our union members to decide to take strike action, and we know that our colleagues won’t have done so lightly.

“But it really is the last thing that students want or need or deserve after the disruption caused by the previous industrial action and of course the Covid pandemic.”

However, Professor Fitt did note that the pandemic has opened up opportunities for teaching to be online if walkouts were to occur but re-iterated that it “doesn’t translate to ‘everything will go online'” and said online teaching gave them “more freedom” and the ability to “deploy face-to-face teaching where they’re really needed.”

However, it is currently unknown if staff at Oxford Brookes University will take part in strike action.

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