Delivering our duty to help our students progress their studies
The University fully recognises the right of staff to take part in industrial action over the proposed changes to the USS Pension Scheme (with their potential impacts on contributions and final salary), an action for which UCU has a mandate. All members of the Executive understand the depth of feeling across the University about the proposed changes to the USS Pension Scheme and we continue to advocate for further and constructive discussions at national level. There remain concerns about the valuation of Scheme assets and – regretfully and understandably - there is now anxiety across the University within our own major asset, our people.
The Executive further recognises that it is not the intent of staff to cause damage to the learning prospects of our students. Nevertheless, as you will appreciate, many of our current students are very concerned about the impact of strike action on their education experience. Students make a significant financial commitment to their studies at Durham and they have a statutory expectation that we will fulfil our duty to help them to progress their studies and complete their awards.
It is with these factors in mind that the University has developed a policy which sets out how we will use our best endeavours to respect the right of staff to strike whilst also seeking to minimise the impact of the strike action on our students. Durham Students’ Union has been consulted in the drafting of this policy. The Students’ Union officers also respect the position of UCU but their priority is to ensure that the negative impact on students is as limited as possible.
The full policy can be viewed here. It is important that all academic staff take some time to read the policy.
We have asked Heads of Department to liaise with academic colleagues in the coming weeks to discuss the most appropriate ways of mitigating the impact on students in their department. Further updates will be provided as the situation develops.