University lecturers vote for industrial action over threat to pensions

PUBLISHED: 18:32 20 October 2014 | UPDATED: 18:41 20 October 2014

Thousands of college students in London’s East End could be hit by lecturers who have voted for industrial action at campuses up and down the country.

A row over changes to pensions involving 69 universities has led to a 78 per cent vote for industrial action by members of the University & College Union at campuses across the UK which could include a strike.

The ballot results announced today included lecturers at London University’s Queen Mary campuses at Mile End and Whitechapel as well as its Royal Holloway campuses in Whitechapel, Aldgate and Holloway.

Talks are set for Wednesday between the union and the universities.

But union general secretary Sally Hunt warned: “The UCU meets again on Friday to determine what disruptive action we take and when, if the employers don’t address our concerns.”

Action short of striking could include a boycott of marking and a refusing to set exams which would stop students being set coursework.

Action could include boycotting marking and a refusing to set exams which would stop students being set coursework.

The pension scheme at the UK’s ‘old’ universities, including London University’s of East End campuses, is set to show a deficit.

But the method used to determine the deficit is “too simplistic” and doesn’t take account underlying strengths, the union claims, such as investments growing by £8bn since 2011 and dividends outperforming average earnings and beating inflation.

Universities UK wants to switch to what the union believes is a riskier scheme, with academics fearing that they would be financially far worse off if the changes go through.

The 45 per cent ballot turnout for industrial action was the most in a national higher education vote since the union was formed in 2006.

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