Universities: Strikes

Department for Education written question – answered on 19th April 2018.

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Photo of Jo Swinson Jo Swinson Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the number of students whose classes have been cancelled as a result of the recent strikes by university staff.

Photo of Sam Gyimah Sam Gyimah Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Higher Education), Minister of State (Education)

Universities are autonomous institutions and it is for them to consider the number of their students whose classes have been affected by strike action. No assessment has been made by the Department for Education, but we remain concerned about any impact of the strikes on students and are pleased that the action has been suspended.

We note that the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, which represents UK higher education organisations as employers, polled the 56 universities that were the focus of strikes on 22 and 23 February 2018. Results of this polling indicated that the overall impact in four out of five institutions was between ‘none’ and ‘low-medium’.

The new regulator for higher education in England, the Office for Students (OfS), has recently issued guidance to students stating that it expects universities to take all reasonable steps to reduce the impact of any future strike action on teaching, learning and assessment, and to communicate clearly to students the impact of any industrial action. Universities should make clear to students how they intend to avoid or mitigate the impact of the disruption caused by strike action.

The OfS will also have the power to request information from registered higher education providers.

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