Many Exeter students are unsure about their final term teaching while the UCU (University and College Union) tries to come to an agreement with UUK (Universities UK) regarding pension schemes.
After the first four weeks of strikes, a proposal from UUK was rejected and a further second wave of strikes is forecast for exam season, which takes place over a six-week period starting in May. This has caused upset among students, even though many are in support of the lecturers striking.
2nd year Conservation Biology student, Amanda Seregni says that she is frustrated: “I came here to learn not to simply get a degree” She continues that “We pay a lot of money to be taught by them and if they aren’t teaching us and they aren’t getting paid, where is our money going?” A petition on Change.org has received over 1,500 signatures asking that Exeter students be refunded for the loss of 25% of the term’s contact hours and teaching. But with some students on Penryn campus feeling out of the loop, those down in Falmouth feel they are left unsure of what is going on and what will happen during their exams.
Jemima Coe, a Geography student, said that many students on her course have signed a petition and feel it is unfair as “the President and Chancellor of Exeter has spoken to the Streatham campus but haven’t considered coming here”. Students studying in Falmouth are on a different campus to the main Streatham campus in Exeter.
The proposed second period of strikes is due to take place sometime over the six-week exam season. And because students are already four weeks behind on material before leaving for Easter, many are concerned.
The change in pension schemes for lecturers could lead to staff potentially losing £10,000 a year of retirement savings. Some students are very understanding of what this means and are happy to support their teaching staff in their strike, despite the disruption to their academic work. It seems the only way for both students and academic staff to be happy is if UUK put forward an alternative proposal for the pension scheme.
On Monday the 12th March UUK and UCU came forward with a proposed agreement, however, teaching staff refused to accept the proposal and many took to Twitter using the hashtag #NoCapitulation asking people not to give in to UUK’s plans.