On 22 February, academic staff at more than 60 UK universities walked out over proposed cuts to pensions, which they said will cost each an average of £10,000 pounds a year in retirement.
“Recently, staff of some British universities held a strike that affected the normal study of Chinese students in Britain”
While many students are supporting their lecturers by joining picket lines, for international students paying tuition fees of more than £20,000 per year, the intermittent strikes have been a cause for major concern.
In a statement, the Chinese embassy said it would maintain contact with the UK’s Department for Education to “ensure the legitimate right of Chinese students studying in Britain”.
“Recently, staff of some British universities held a strike that affected the normal study of Chinese students in Britain,” it read.
The embassy said it was calling on Chinese students to pay close attention to strike updates and to press their demands through legitimate channels to protect their legitimate rights and interests.
The UK’s universities minister Sam Gyimah said students whose courses have been disrupted by the university strike should receive compensation for lost classes, with King’s College London stating it will have a fund to compensate students.
A King’s spokesperson told The PIE News that King’s would not reap financial benefit from the strike, and will “consider” compensation after the strike has ended.
“King’s will not accrue any financial benefit from the industrial action by UCU and any salary savings will be ring-fenced as a fund which we can use to offset the impact of the strike on our students. Once the nature and scale of disruption has become clearer, we will develop a mechanism for considering cases for any further compensation that may be warranted in light of cancelled classes,” the spokesperson said.
Commenting on the first day of talks between employers and the University and College Union on March 5, a spokesperson for Universities UK said: “Today’s talks were constructive and will continue over the coming days.
“Employers are committed to exploring affordable and viable options to resolve this dispute. UCU should call off the strikes to focus all their efforts on joining us for meaningful discussions over the future of [Universities Superannuation Scheme].”