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Durham students will lose up to 54 per cent of teaching days in February and March due to more strikes

It means students will lose nearly a thousand pounds’ worth of teaching this year

The University and College Union (UCU) has announced eighteen more days of strikes this term between February and March, meaning Durham students will miss up to 54 per cent of their teaching hours during this period from lecturers who are UCU members.

This decision was made on Thursday 13th January by the union’s Higher Education Committee (HEC), however the dates of the strikes have not yet been confirmed.

There are 33 days of term time teaching over February and March combined, meaning the eighteen days of planned strike action will result in the loss of up to 54 per cent of total teaching time during the two month period.

Combined with the three days of strike action in November, this will bring the total number of strike days this academic year so far up to 21 days – three full weeks of term and nearly ten per cent of the entire year.

Each week of term costs £318.97, meaning students will lose nearly a thousand pounds in academic fees.

The UCU has also called for a marking boycott, due to “excessive workloads” and lecturers having to do constantly undertake hours of “unpaid work”.

This marking and assessment will take place from April unless an agreement can be reached.

On behalf of university employers, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) reportedly made the UCU a pay rise offer worth between four per cent and five per cent on Wednesday 12th January, however this was rejected by the UCU who said the offer was “not enough”. The UCEA claimed however that this offer was worth up to seven per cent.

The industrial action involves over 70,000 university staff, which includes not only lecturers but other roles such as technicians, administrators and librarians.

UCU General Secretary Jo Grady said: “The clock is now ticking for the sector to produce a deal or be hit with widespread disruption.

“University staff dedicate their lives to education and they want to get back to work, but that will only happen if university vice-chancellors use the vast wealth of the sector to address over a decade of falling pay, rampant insecure employment practices and devastating pension cuts. The choice is theirs”.

Durham University says: “We urge UCEA and all Trade Unions to find a way to end this dispute so industrial action can be avoided. 

“The University would like to reassure our students and staff that we will continue to keep you updated, once the University receives official notification and dates of action. It is anticipated that this information will arrive w/c 16 January 2023.

“We understand that our students may have concerns about any further action. We would like to reassure you that we will do all we can to support our students in the event of any further industrial action.  

“In recent months the University has worked constructively with its campus Trade Unions, including Durham UCU, on many areas of common ground. This has included a commitment to a joint statement on USS pensions with DUCU and ongoing work on workload, diversity pay gaps and casualisation.”  

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