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Help stop cuts to UoE staff pensions

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Letter to Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Steve Smith,

I am writing to complain about the impact of the UCU strike action upon my education. I chose this university in large part due to the outstanding staff and I believe that they are the university's greatest asset. Yet we have been told that the current proposals to change their pensions could reduce the annual retirement income by £10,000 a year on average.

I am sure you can agree that this unfair treatment of our teaching staff is disgusting – for would we have a University without the amazing staff who teach us?

I support the reasons behind staff members striking – as I would too if I were ever in their position. However, it does not take away the incredible irritability and frustration that myself and fellow students will be feeling. This is my last taught term of my final year, where already the stress of having to write over twenty thousand words for assessments, preparing for exams as well as keeping up with seminar work and reading has been felt. We are undoubtedly already at an incredibly stressful time of our lives and this only adds to it.

Now let me give you another concept: if you pay for a party to have catered food and then the catering company never show up with your food what happens? Of course, you demand a refund.

I have calculated that I pay £88.10 per contact hour of education this year (based on the tuition fees that the University chose to increase to £9,250). This means that if the academics who teach me choose to strike then I will pay £1,057.20 for a service that I am not receiving, not including the time I would lose for my dissertation meetings, as I will be losing twelve hours of contact time. This will be even higher for my colleagues who have two or more modules this term.

I do not support the marketisation of education and despise the business-like approach which is now taken towards students. However, if you’re going to treat it like a business then so am I. If the strikes go ahead then I would like a reimbursement of my money. After all, lecturers and seminar leaders will be losing a large chunk of their monthly pay check meaning the only people who benefit from this strike financially will be you, the institution. A lack of service in any other business transaction would warrant a refund – so why not now? You may say that you have not chosen for academic teaching staff to strike but nor have we, the students.

Students should not have to suffer the consequences from the decision made by Universities UK. We work hard and contribute enormous amounts to University life. We pay substantial and quite frankly unjustified fees to this institution to consequently face the possibility of losing up to four academic weeks of the year when we only have twenty-four teaching weeks anyway. I support the reasons why my academic teaching staff are striking however, it must be noted that the negative effect it will have on students – particularly those who are in their final year – is extremely unfair and will have a knock-on effect so close to deadline season and exams.

I plead with you to understand the reasons why staff members wish to strike but also remain sympathetic to the drastic effect it will have on students University-wide during such an important time of the academic year.

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