UCU strikes: 60 students are considering suing Sheffield University for compensation

As lecturers walk out again


Almost 60 students are considering suing Sheffield University for compensation over teaching time lost to lecturer strikes.

A flood of undergraduates have contacted a student who is about to take the Russell Group institution to court, since The Tab Sheffield revealed his story earlier this month. 

It comes on the eve of University and College Union (UCU) members walking out for a further 14 days at 74 universities in a row over pensions and pay.

Joseph Ford, a third year philosophy student at Sheffield, lodged a case with the Money Claims Service for £2,000 for 22 days of lectures cancelled to previous strikes in November 2019 and March 2018.

After the uni declined to pay him anything, despite not rescheduling any of the classes, he said: “The university owe students reimbursements for tuition they have been promised and have paid for yet not received.”

Joseph Ford is suing the university

The Tab Sheffield can now reveal that he is delaying going to court until after the current strike ends on March 13, when he will update his claim to demand £3,000 compensation.

He has set up a website advising others how to follow suit, after having 57 students message him in the last three weeks saying they are also intending to sue the university for compensation, and enquiring over a group litigation case.

Philosophy student Isabel Jazierska is one of them and told The Tab Sheffield: “Either Sheffield University could do everything in their power so that the strikes would be cut short, or they could compensate me. It seems that they won’t do either, so it has left me no other choice than to pursue legal action to demand the compensation.”

Ford said: “I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the response considering there’s 57 contacting me directly and others expressing interest, compared with five abusive emails. That’s encouraging as it shows students are willing to stand up for their rights as consumers.”

He was targeted by a cyber attack on his email account following The Tab Sheffield’s story. A spoofer claimed to be a compensation lawyer under his name and gained access to a mailing list of 2,300 students at Sheffield Uni.

Joseph Ford has filed a legal claim and is ready to take the uni to court

The university’s press office ignored repeated requests for comment on the issue, but the security team investigated the spoof and emailed students on Wednesday saying the matter has been “dealt with and concluded”.

The upcoming wave of strikes, set to take place between February 20 and March 13, have been dubbed the biggest ever to rock campuses, and are set to affect one million students.

But anger is mounting. More than 14,000 at Sheffield Hallam University have signed a petition demanding a refund for cancelled classes, and 60 per cent came out against the industrial action in a Tab Sheffield poll earlier this month.

The UCU is locked in a dispute with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, representing vice-chancellors, over lecturers’ pension schemes and the gender and ethnicity pay gap.