Durham University Vice Chancellor vows to ‘put things right for students’ affected by strikes

Conveniently, “formal student complaints” can’t be addressed quite yet


After weeks of strike action, missed lectures, picket lines and science students with too much time on their hands experiencing the lifestyle of a humanities student, the strikes are finally over.

UCU members – it was announced on Friday 13th April – have voted to accept a proposed resolution to the pension dispute, which has seen the strikes be suspended just in time for term to start again.

Emailing Durham students this afternoon, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Alan Houston, has described the end to the strikes as "very welcome news", confirming the university's commitment to ensuring that all students are "able to successfully complete the year".

The email, which can be read in full below, shares a link to a "new policy and procedural guidance" document regarding strike impact, but beyond a promise of helping students "complete the year", the email appears to simply point students in the direction of their relevant academic department.

Should the departments not be able to offer any help, Houston explains, students should then consider submitting a formal complaint. These, however, are not quite ready to be investigated in.

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"By the time I contact department, hear that they can't help me, submit a formal complaint and wait for the uni to respond to that, my degree will be over!" said one concerned Aidan's third year upon reading the update.

Although for many students the strikes brought a few extra weeks of pre-Easter holiday, with reports of students going to Berlin and Copenhagen whilst lectures were cancelled, for many third year and PhD students the lack of lectures have caused weeks of uncertainty.

Alan Houston's update today pointed out how well he feels the university have done keeping students "regularly informed of developments", however this point of view was not shared by all. Speaking to the Tab Durham at the height of the strikes, student Rosie Russell expressed her anger at the Vice-Chancellors office for not showing more support for lecturers and students.

"There's been a failure from the university to show support to UCU – it's been really weak of the Vice Chancellor, unlike other universities' Vice Chancellors who have come out in support of their lecturers."

With exam term about to be in full swing, many will be questioning whether Durham have done enough to ensure all students and lecturers have been supported, but in the meantime, keep enjoying your final week of lectures whilst you can!

Read Alan Houston's full email below:

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