Today marks the beginning of a nationwide marking boycott across 69 universities, including Southampton.
University staff belonging to the UCU (University College Union) have stopped marking any assessments in protest against the proposals made to alter their current pensions. The UCU had attempted to negotiate with employers twice before the boycott was decided and announced.
One of the proposals made by University UK is to end final salary arrangements and instead members will receive pensions based on their average career earnings.
The UCU have opposed such proposals and members from Southampton have appealed to Vice Chancellor, Don Nutbeam, to withdraw the University of Southampton from the proposal.
One lecturer, who does not wish to be named, has commented on the struggle for staff to make this decision that directly affects the students:
”I hate taking any kind of action that damages the students. Speaking to colleagues, it’s clear that we all feel anxious and unhappy about what we’re committed to do as Union members. But we also feel cheated and betrayed by our employers over this. We were told a few years ago that cuts made to our pensions then would make them safe for the future, but we appear to have been lied to. Our pay is not high – last year we had to strike to get a pay offer raised from 1% to 2%, which still equates to a real-terms pay cut of more than 10 % since 2009”
Southampton University Students’ Union have decided not to support the marking boycott, after a meeting was called by the education zone last night to discuss the issue. Sophia D’Angelico, VP Education, said:
”SUSU will not be assisting in any way with the assessment boycott, or any further action the UCU might take relating to the USS pension scheme.”
”The Union has set this stance as it believes that supporting the dispute, and therefore the action, would not be in the best interest of our members.”
Students have been advised to continue to submit various assessments before set deadlines and to discuss any concerns they have with their respective faculty office.