Today's blog brings you updates concerning the UCU strike action and advice if you are considering making a compensation claim due to strike action.
UCU STRIKE UPDATE - ACTION PAUSED
UCU strike action has been paused after the UCU reached a point in discussions and made significant progress across a range of their demands. What does this mean for students? The action scheduled for the following dates WILL NOT go ahead:
- Wednesday, February 22
- Thursday, February 23
- Monday, February 27
- Tuesday, February 28
- Wednesday, March 1
- Thursday, March 2
The action scheduled after the above dates WILL still go ahead, with an additional date added (Wednesday 15th, Thursday 16th, Friday 17th, Monday 20th, Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd of March). Please note that while LSE buildings remain open, we strongly encourage you not to cross the picket line. The LSESU and Advice Service will be open and continue to operate as usual. There will be no more picket line restrictions or space issues related to events you may have planned during the originally scheduled strike dates.
The UCU has made progress on the following demands:
- UCU are at the start of a process that will restore USS pensions and potentially lead to a reduction in the percentage of the salary UCU members pay into every year (based on newly published data that supports the case for restoration)
- UCU are establishing time-limited negotiations for new agreements on 1) tackling casualisation, 2) improving work-life balance and reducing workloads, and 3) addressing equality pay gaps
- Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) are currently consulting their members with a recommendation that a mandate to end the use of involuntary zero-hour contracts on campus is passed.
- UCU has made progress on pay with commitments from the UCEA to remove the lowest point from the pay scale and review the pay spine generally.
For further information please visit the UCU webpage.
COMPLAINTS AND COMPENSATION
Advice for submitting a complaint around strike action.
We are seeing increased student inquries about compensation requests for missed learning. Please see below our advice and guidance if you are considering a comepensation request.
Please note that this is solely advice for compensation claims due to strike action. If you are concerned about a grade received then this will have to be done through the LSE Appeals process when you receive your results.
1. Keep notes of each time Industrial Action has affected your studies. This could be on a piece of paper, in your phone, or in a disruption diary.
You should record:
- The date
- What was affected (e.g. seminar, lecture, revision session, supervision session, personal tutoring etc.)
- A short note of any concerns you have about how this could affect your studies (e.g. material might arise on an exam, or in coursework, learning needed for professional placement)
- If the disruption has cost you in some way then keep evidence of this. This could be travel costs etc.
- How LSE has communicated updates on the strikes, think about response times and if information has presented clearly.
2. Consider your situation thoroughly
We understand that strikes are frustrating, however you will not have a successful claim just for learning time missed. You have to have a reason/reasons for why you were impacted and why the mitigations that LSE put in place were not adequate for your learning needs. Consider some of the below points:
- Concerns about whether your assessments have been, or will be, affected. List the assessments and explain what has happened. For example, were deadlines not postponed or extended sufficiently?
- Was any feedback not provided on time or yet to be provided?
- Were you not able to meet or contact supervisors?
- If there is any teaching or content set out in the course prospectus that will no longer be delivered, you may wish to express your dissatisfaction at not receiving this if it was a significant factor in choosing your programme.
- If you are not happy with your department’s attempt to mitigate the impact on your studies, explain why you think the steps they have taken are not enough.
- Were you unable to access other key services search as wellbeing, mental health etc because of industrial action?
- Refer to any evidence such as emails received from your department about cancellations of lessons or changes that have had to be made due to the strike action.
- If you have any other evidence that relates to the impact or inconveniences caused you should mention that: these may or may not include:
- Not feeling comfortable about crossing the picket lines and the impact on your mental health.
- Late cancellation of teaching after travelling to university and incurring travel costs/inconvenience incurred attending university only to be informed classes were missing?
- Poor communication from LSE and your department regarding mitigations.
If you feel that some of the above applies to your situation, then you could have a case for a compensation request. This is by no means an exhaustive list, we strongly recommend you get in touch with the LSESU Advice Service who can discuss your individual case.
3. Be patient and don’t just submit a complaint straight away.
LSE states that “As an evolving situation, we currently cannot fully assess the impact of industrial action on teaching and learning, or accurately evaluate if support and mitigations put in place sufficiently remedy the effect of strike activity. This is because measures will vary depending on your area of study and may be enacted now, later in the term, and across the duration of your programme.”
This means that they will be unable to assess the impact upon individual learning until they have a full picture. Therefore, if you are looking for compensation, it may be best to wait to submit a complaint until after your course has finished and you know the full impact it has had on you and your studies.
4. What outcome do you want?
You should clearly outline what you believe the School can do to resolve this issue. You need to be realistic about what LSE can/will do. For example, some classes may be rescheduled later in the year or delivered in other formats. This could be through additional guided reading or recordings of previously delivered classes. Your assessments may also have topics removed that were missed due to the strikes.
However, most students do not study at higher education providers purely to gain a qualification. Other things are important to them too, such as attending lectures and seminars led by academics.
If a considerable amount of teaching time has been cancelled and:
- The learning outcomes modules are not or cannot be delivered in full
- Key elements of the Programme as promised before you started the course are not delivered
- Key elements of the course, or modules are not delivered to expected standards
Then you may wish to request compensation:
When requesting financial compensation you need to be very clear on why you feel this is justified. A good starting point could be to work out from the fees paid for the term, how much you may have paid for the module(s) affected etc. You could then factor in any measures taken by your department to reduce the impact before deciding what amount you consider to be appropriate compensation. You may also wish to consider if you have evidence of any unexpected additional costs incurred directly as a result from the circumstances of the strike action and/or the measures taken by the university to reduce the impact.
For any amount you request, you should consider reducing this number by 50%; this is to take into account that higher education providers have to provide and maintain buildings, IT and library facilities, wellbeing and other student support and administration. This is the approach taken by the OIA when awarding compensation/fee refunds for industrial action. Therefore, even if you lost out on 25% of teaching for example you may not necessarily receive 25% of your tuition fees in financial compensation.
If you are unsure about calculating an amount of compensation to request for, don’t worry, you can just mention that you would like to be refunded for what you have missed, and LSE will do the calculations for you.
5. Ask the LSESU Advice Service to look over your draft complaint before you submit.
The LSESU Advice Service can look over any potential complaints and advise you on any improvements. Use the contact details at the end of the page to get in touch.
6. Submit your complaint
Navigate to here, scroll to “Further FAQs on teaching and learning”, then to “What about compensation and fee refund requests?”, then click on ‘submit a formal complaint’
Blog written by Hannah Thomsen and Laurence Mackavoy. Both work for the LSESU Advice Service.
THE LSESU ADVICE TEAM
The LSESU Advice Team is based on the 3rd floor of the Saw Swee Hock Building and we provide free, independent and confidential advice to all LSE students on academic and housing matters. We also administer the Hardship Fund, the Childcare Fund and the Graduation Gown Support Fund (GGSF).
Our service is currently operating using a hybrid working pattern. We are still open and can be accessed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also book a telephone or Zoom appointment with an adviser through Student Hub.