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Compensation for strike action demanded by Cambridge students

Strikes have caused rising feeling that students deserve reimbursement for their missed hours

#news cambridge students cde protest strikes tuition fees University of Cambridge

After fourteen days of teaching were missed last term due to the lecturer strikes, many students are now demanding legal action and refunds for their missed contact hours.

Behind this movement is an online group that has amassed over 100,000 student signatures of those angry with the teaching that won't be compensated after the strike.

Students from many universities including Oxbridge, Bristol and Manchester have given their support to this movement after the strike affected 65 university campuses nationwide over changes to pension schemes for university staff.

CUSU however stands defiant on the issue of not claiming refunds for missed contact times over beliefs that it would work towards the 'marketisation of education'.

Some legal experts claim that the money saved by the universities through not paying their staff during the strike could be large enough to reimburse students who missed hours that they paid for.

The group claim for compensation is being organised by Asserson Law Offices, a solicitors firm in England and Wales. The head of the compensation group, Shimon Goldwater, gave the following statement:

"We have had 28 sign-ups so far from Cambridge students and welcome many more […] there is a good chance of obtaining decent financial compensation for lost teaching time, in the amount of hundreds of pounds per student."

The Tab also reached out to CUSU President elect Evie Aspinall who gave the following statement:

"I sympathise with the ongoing frustration felt by many students about the effect strikes have had, particularly on MPhil students (who have shorter teaching time) and international students (who pay significantly higher fees). I remain uncertain as to whether refunds are the most practical or effective solution, and no matter what I think recovering teaching hours and limiting the effect it has on student’s exam results should always remain the priority. Regardless, I am looking forward to CUSU Council on Monday where the arguments for both sides will be articulated, and where there will be an opportunity for student voices to be heard. Next year I would of course act in line with what is mandated by CUSU Council on Monday on this issue. "

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Incoming president Aspinall remains open minded about the issue

"Also I'd advise students to make sure their views (whether they are for or against refunds) known to their JCR Presidents (and V-P/ externals officers) to ensure that their vote reflects the opinions of the students they are elected to represent."

Finally, the group Cambridge Defend Education, a group campaigning against the marketisation and privatisation of university education commented:

'Cambridge Defend Education opposes the demand for tuition fee refunds after strike action last term. It is clear to us that the situation which caused the strikes was brought about by the marketisation of universities. This is the process by which the university comes to see itself as a business and its students as consumers who pay for a service. It is bad for the education and wellbeing of students, and also harmful to staff. Demanding money back would be playing into that idea and telling the university that students see themselves as customers. It would undermine the progress that has been made over the last term in tackling the root cause of the problem, and entrench the system which makes us pay tuition fees in the first place.'

With so many differing and opposing views on the matter it is unclear about what the consensus will be on whether students will be awarded compensation for last month's strikes.