Hundreds of students join ‘sit-in’ to protest dispute over lecturers’ pensions

#RatherBeInLectures signs could be seen all over the University of Leicester


Hundreds of University of Leicester students took to the Vice Chancellor's lawn today to show their solidarity and support for lecturers striking over a pension dispute.

The event, named Sit in Solidarity, had gained huge support over the past couple of days from both students and lecturers alike with the peaceful protest bringing together students from all schools within the university.

The sit in was also supported by multiple members of the SU comittee, including the President of the SU Amy Moran, as well as executive officers and societies.

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The strikes have been scheduled over the next four weeks at the university, starting from the 22nd February right through to the 16th March. Whilst the strike has had a negative impact on many of the students protesting, the feeling of togetherness and unity was something that couldn't be ignored on the lawn. Many of those at the event brought signs, drums and flags.

The protest has also been directed at Paul Boyle and his role in the closing of negotiations and the subsequent strikes. Professor Boyle, who is the current President and Vice Chancellor at Leicester, is also on the executive board of Universities UK which is the organisation planning to scrap a pension scheme which could see lecturers £10,000 worse off once they retire.

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Amy Wood, a third year Geography student ,and one of the people who helped to organise this event, told The Tab: "Its important that we stand in solidarity with our lecturers to show Vice Chancellor Paul Boyle that what he is doing will never be OK.

"Paul Boyle is on the executive board of Universities UK and has the power to re-start negotiations, but he isn't listening. Well, we hope this will make him listen and make him realise that as Leicester students, we wont be ignored."

Amy continued: "Beyond the disgusting pension cuts that are proposed for academics, students stand to lose out on up to four weeks of teaching, countless lectures, practicals and delayed marking.

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"This is frustrating for everyone, but especially for third year students such as myself who are so close to finishing our degree and this could negatively impact our grades at the last minute.

"Our extortionate £9000 a year university education teaches us to be critical and that's exactly what we are doing – being critical of what Paul Boyle thinks is a fair deal."

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"Lecturers working hard and being rewarded by pension cuts, and students trapped in a commodified education system where those higher up in the university think we wont speak out? think again, we will sit in solidarity with our striking lecturers, and if you want us to leave, well we would #ratherbeinlectures anyway."

Whilst students at other universities have voiced their displeasure at the strikes, the overwhelming feeling here is one of support for our lecturers and their cause.