Salaries deducted during teachers’ strikes to be used as research grants at the University of Sheffield

It is the one-year anniversary of the 2018 higher education strikes, and some students are expressing concerns over how the University of Sheffield is handling the funds that were deducted from striking teachers’ and professors’ paychecks during the industrial action.

Funds will be allocated to student projects as a way of mitigating the effects of the strikes, wrote Jonathan Benson, Sheffield UCU Branch Secretary in a statement last week.

He stated: “Our members are proud to support our students instead of allowing salary deductions to be absorbed into the University’s already considerable financial surplus.”

As per an email sent out by the university, students can apply for up to £100 to support research trips or any other costs associated with their studies. It seems though that some of them are not happy with this solution

Mr Benson explained that the decision was agreed by the Sheffield UCU Committee, President and Vice-Chancellor Sir Keith Burnett and officers from Sheffield Students’ Union. Another student society however thinks that this treatment is unjust towards the strikers

Scott Robert of The Sheffield Marxist Society said: “The staff should receive the money. They shouldn’t have been forced to strike in the first place. It wasn’t about improving conditions but stopping the attacks on their prior conditions.”

During February and March 2018, UCU members at The University of Sheffield, along with thousands of members on the national level went on strike for 14 days in order to defend their pensions. More than a million students were affected by this nationwide, and a petition for school fee refunds gathered 126,000 signatures.

Mr Robert added: “Management should stop attacking their staff’s working conditions and agreed benefits. In doing so we wouldn’t be talking about how to spend the unspent wages of staff nor about further disruption to learning forced upon the students by management.”

The strikes started due to pension cuts that were estimated to be equivalent to a 13% drop in staff salaries. According to a Yougov poll, 61% of students also supported the strike.

A student requesting anonymity said: “This money that we are being offered should have been paid to staff at the university who were forced to strike.”

She added: “Those who work so hard for us at our universities are being squeezed by management to do more work whilst they no profit whatsoever from the rise in tuition fees. We need to stand behind our lecturers, not accept payoffs.”

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