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“If Cardiff wants to be a top 100 University it has to pay staff”: We spoke to the lecturers protesting outside Main Building

Nothing but respect for MY lecturers

We interviewed Cardiff University lecturers outside the main building on the first day of strikes, where we asked them why they were taking industrial action and how student support can have a significant impact on the success of the strikes.

The lecturers expressed how the changes to the pension scheme would have a detrimental impact on the future of not only current lecturers and future academics, but also the future generations of students, as the lack of professional and economic security could severely disadvantage educational sectors in years to come.

As well as the primary argument over pensions, lecturers also expressed their concern for other issues such fees as making higher education more exclusive and a need for opportunities to help students with important issues such as mental health.

“The figures don’t add up”

Victoria Basham, Politics Lecturer told us how she is “very worried about the pensions issue, the figures don’t add up, and the way that things have been calculated is all about transferring risks onto the employees rather than the employer, and I think that there’s a much wider issue.”

“A lot of our students want to go into professional jobs, from law to medicine to political roles to academia, and they’re worried about the driving down of pensions across professional professions, and we’re worried about our students futures as well as our own.”

“If Cardiff wants to be a top 100 University it absolutely has to pay for good staff”

Ceri Sullivan, ENCAP Professor – "The pensions scheme is moving from a defined benefits to a defined contributions scheme, which can mean up to 60% of an average pension being lost for young lecturers, particularly for those of us who have been in the scheme for a long time, we think its appalling that young people who are coming into the profession are being so disadvantaged. If Cardiff wants to be a top 100 University it absolutely has to pay for good staff, and it has to include pension benefits for them.”

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“What is the value of a British degree in 20 years if British universities cannot attract the best staff.”

Ismael Al’amoudi, Business Lecturer – I was delighted when I saw a number of my students joining, PhD students of course partly because they are on the other side of the barrier, but also masters students who definitely not on the other side of the teaching barrier, who came here in solidarity with our lecturers, on the understanding that what is at stake is the value of their degree in the long term, because what is the value of a British degree in 20 years if British universities cannot attract the best staff.”

“The student support is the thing which is making me most optimistic”

Andy Williams, Journalism Lecturer- “it’s such a serious issue that it’s forced us into taking quite serious and disruptive strike action. We really don’t want to be doing it, we do it really reluctantly, and we hate messing around our students, and that’s what it in essence means that we have to do. But this is like whether we can afford to live in old age. “

“The student support is the thing which is making me most optimistic, because students have got a strong voice at the universities, and so many people are supporting us, that I hope that it puts enough pressure on my employers, on the Vice-Chancellor, to get something done.”

"It’s about opening up education so that people from poorer backgrounds can come.”

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“This is a completely unfounded unnecessary attack on a perfectly financially viable pensions scheme”

Branwen Gruffydd Jones, International Relations Lecturer – “I believe it is crucial for this country to have a national coherent higher educational sector, and I don’t think powerful institutions should be strong and others not. It’s not what I’m here for, not just my own pension and for the pensions of all my colleagues and future mentors of the profession, but the integrity of the whole sector.”

Andy Williams, Journalism lecturer, on student action:

“That’s what I’d really hope that more students will do. It might seem like a small thing, it might seem like a useless thing, but write to your Vice-Chancellor, tell them how this strike is affecting you. Every single letter that the Vice-Chancellor gets from a student saying we support our lecturers but we want you to make amends for the disruption, academically, financially, is helping our cause as well, and we can campaign together I think on this.”

You can click here to sign the petition created by Cardiff students, attempting to push for change with Cardiff VC Colin Riordan.