We can all see that there is a clear agreement between UUK and UCU on a way forward over the pensions dispute. This is soon to be shared with UCU members for their view and possible ratification. If the agreement is ratified, the strike will be called off.
I completely understand that in a democratic process it is possible that the deal may be rejected; and were that to be so, then UCU will strike across the assessment period with a view to preventing students from graduating.
I hope that does not happen. For the sake of our students. But also for the sake of the future of pensions. The agreement between UUK and UCU does not resolve the issue. But it is a means for doing so. And the agreement contains the elements that I have been calling for: a meaningful defined benefit; an independent panel; engagement with government about backing USS along the lines of TPS.
Whether or not the strike is lifted – and I very much hope it is: our focus must be on the needs of our students and making sure that they attain the learning outcomes they need to succeed, especially those who are due to graduate this summer. We need to concentrate on using the first few weeks of next term to make up activities which were not delivered this term because of the strike, and which would have contributed to those learning outcomes.
I would like to ask everyone now to begin to plan on that basis. If we leave it later, we will be unable to deliver as much to our students as we can if we plan from now. If we plan early, and the agreement is rejected by UCU members, then the planning will be put on hold. From the perspective of our students, commitment to prepare now is vital.
I understand that some of you who were on strike feel that it is unfair to expect you to make up time for lectures and student facing work not delivered for which you have had strike pay deducted. I have therefore decided that, where that is the case and as a gesture of goodwill, any teaching and student-facing work which contributes towards students’ learning outcomes, which is requested by the Head of Department, may be paid on top of normal salary at the same rate it was deducted should the individual wish that to be so. Sessional teachers will be paid in full for agreed additional work.
All monies which come from strike deductions will stay in departments and be used towards support for our students this year in whatever way departments can most usefully support student success. Any money left over should be deployed at departmental discretion towards any other activities which enhance the student experience. Further details will follow about the way in which this arrangement will operate once we have had the opportunity to put the right systems in place.
I do hope I can have your support in this”.
Vice-Chancellor, Stuart Croft