Imperial College London have confirmed students will not be examined on material missed as a result of the ongoing strikes by the University and College Union (UCU).
In an email sent out on Friday to all students, Professor James Stirling, Provost, and Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Provost (Education), said they wanted to “reassure [students] that no students will be placed at a disadvantage due to the strike”. They told students “we can say with certainty that you will not be examined on any material that you have not been taught.”
The email came two days into the strikes, which could last up to 14 days. UCU members voted to take industrial action following proposed changes to their pension scheme by Universities UK (UUK).
A number of students and staff have voiced concerns over whether assessments later this year would include material scheduled to be covered in contact time cancelled due to the strike. In an email sent to Prof. Stirling and Prof. Buitendijk earlier on Friday, Professor Michele Dougherty, head of the Department of Physics, expressed her worries over “uncertainty and lack of clarity from College”, asking them to “show sector leadership on this matter”.
One issue Prof. Dougherty highlighted was the expectation of departmental staff to minimise the impact the strike was having on students, which she said was “unreasonable and unviable”.
On Thursday, over 700 students from the Department of Physics alone were affected, as nearly 60% of lecture contact hours and nearly 40% of tutorial contact hours had to be cancelled. Prof. Dougherty urged the College to “ensure that productive negotiations are reopened between UUK and the [UCU] without any further delay”.
As well as concerns over examinations, a number of student academic representatives have been asking whether tuition fees would be refunded as a result of the strike action. A petition requesting a partial refund of tuition feed, started by students in the Electronic and Electrical Engineering (EEE) Department, is currently on around 2,500 signatures. Students at other universities have started similar petitions, with reports of the number of students demanding refunds increasing by 10,000 per day.
In the email, Prof. Stirling and Prof. Buitendijk said “we have also heard from a number of students about their tuition fees and we will address this concern in due course.”
UCU are currently taking industrial action over changes to their pension scheme, which they say could see academics and support staff losing out on thousands of pounds each year. Universities UK, the governing body who is proposing the changes, say the move is needed to ensure the sustainability of the scheme – a proposal UCU disagree with.
UCU have stated they are ready to return to the negotiating table, with Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, saying “’If they want to talk to us without preconditions, as the universities minister has suggested, then let’s do it today.”
A number of vice-chancellors at UK universities have called on UUK to reopen serious negotiations, including Goldsmiths, Newcastle, and Cambridge.