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Stirling Students Support the UCU Strikers!

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Principal and Vice Chancellor Gerry McCormac 
University of Stirling

Dear Gerry McCormac,

We are writing to express our solidarity with the staff of the University of Stirling and with the UCU strike. As students, we stand with the staff who work tirelessly to support our education. Neither us, as students, nor the members of staff that are part of the UCU want this action to disrupt our education; however, as these changes put the pensions and livelihoods of staff members at risk, we are compelled to stand in solidarity. We all want to cooperate to find a solution so that staff and students can continue to do what we love - studying, researching, and educating others and ourselves -  rather than having to fight to secure our joint futures.

The only solution given serious attention by the Universities UK-UCU Joint Negotiating Committee has involved the effective closure of the defined benefit scheme. If the proposed changes go ahead, most staff will find their pensions reduced by 10-40% and a typical new employee would lose around £200,000 in pension on retirement. As the staff have made major life decisions in the legitimate expectation of a secure retirement, it is unjust to change the terms of USS this drastically. Moreover the changes would discriminate by both age and gender. In the context of the rapid marketisation of Higher Education, we believe this is another step in the wrong direction.

Therefore, the student body calls on the University of Stirling to further use its voice to defend the pensions of its staff and to find a solution on a national level as soon as possible. 

Additionally, in our solidarity with staff and students alike, we want to encourage you to prevent the strike by advancing negotiations prior to industrial action. We want our University to be a leading role model for the protection of the pension scheme across the UK and strongly believe that taking a stand now will be both to your advantage and of benefit to staff and students.

Due to the proposed disruption to students in case of strike, especially those undertaking their final year, many students will join the pickets to give support and show solidarity with our members of staff through various actions of which the UCU has been informed. We are collaborating with our striking and non-striking staff, and in addition to that are working together with students from various universities across the UK to create a unified stance on this issue.   

Furthermore, Stirling students feel that it is entirely justifiable that we are reimbursed for the 14 days of tuition that we have paid for but will not receive. We share our lecturers frustration, as we will both lose out on money, and on class time as a result of a decision that neither of us made. We urge you, Gerry McCormac, to exert the utmost influence to protect the pensions of your staff, and the education of your students, and we demand regular updates on the progress of the negotiations. 

Please remember that today's Stirling University students are tomorrow's academics, researchers and teachers. This means that the pensions at stake are not only those of your present talented and dedicated staff, but also the future pensions of ourselves and our fellow students. 

The staff are essential to a University, and if national bodies do not value them properly, they are more likely to seek better employment elsewhere. It seems clear to us that, in the long term, these pension changes will drive internationally excellent staff away from the UK higher education system, especially in face of Brexit, and significantly harm our University’s reputation both nationally and internationally. Therefore, by opposing this reform, we are standing up to protect Stirling University’s excellent academic achievements for the sake of future generations of staff and students.

At Stirling University, you encourage all of us to "Be the Difference", now we are encouraging you to do the same.

Thank you for your efforts, time and consideration.

Yours faithfully,

Stirling Students In support of the UCU Strikers


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