Dundee students vow to “ramp up” pressure on university bosses following first round of pensions strikes

Students protest outside Dundee University's Student Association

Dundee students protesting changes to their lecturers’ pensions say they will “ramp up” pressure on university bosses, despite the first round of strikes coming to an end.

Academics have been locked in a bitter row over plans to end the defined benefit of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension – a move they say could cost thousands of pounds in retirement.

A group of activists calling themselves Dundee Students Support UCU Pensions Strike have taken up occupation in a corridor near the office of Dundee University’s principal and vice-chancellor Professor Sir Pete Downes.

The collective held a rally outside Dundee University’s Student Association on Monday and vowed to support staff, even if they opt to strike again over the proposals.

The Courier understands the group will hold strategy talks to come up with new ways to increase the pressure “in any way we can” and currently have no plans to turn the occupied corridor over to university bosses.

Stella Rooney, a second-year art student, revealed the group have organised film screenings and impromptu lectures to take place within the space and have even turned a toilet into a makeshift kitchen area.

Ms Rooney, who is also a member of the Students’ Representative Council, said: “We didn’t plan for it to go on this long but we really feel at this stage the University are just waiting for us to leave.

© Twitter/STDNTstrikedee
The students on Tuesday morning after their overnight protest.

“The strike is over for now and I know it’s been inconvenient for some but I really think this is an important battle for what we want the future of education to look like.

“I want to say thank you to the lecturers for all their hard work over the last weeks and tell them that we stand in total solidarity with you and will support you if you take the decision to strike again.”

Dundee students back university strike action but some could seek compensation

An interim proposal for reform of the pensions scheme by Universities UK and the leadership of the University and College Union was subsequently rejected on Tuesday following meetings of the union’s branch representatives.

Writing to staff on Thursday, Professor Downes acknowledged that an end to the industrial action would be a “considerable relief to students and staff”.

A Dundee University spokesman said: “A small group of students are continuing with their protest in a corridor area of the university’s tower building.

“We have made clear to them the university’s position in relation to the national dispute over the USS pension scheme and other issues.”