Lecturers decide to strike over pensions
A row has erupted between university lecturers and their employers as they look set to strike across the country, with up to 61 universities affected, over changes to their pension scheme.
The disruption could last up to 14 days if the plans go ahead, and is in reaction to planned changes that lecturers say could cost them up to £200,000 over the course of their retirement.
There are last ditch talks taking place to try and avoid the action as the umbrella group Universities UK labelled the planned strike disappointing.
The dispute surrounds plans to change the Universities Superannuation Scheme (Retirement plan) from a defined benefit scheme, where they would have a guaranteed income in retirement – to a defined contribution scheme, where their pensions would be subject to changes in the stock market.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt, speaking to the BBC, said: “Universities will be hit with levels of strike action not seen before on UK campuses if a deal cannot be done over the future of USS pensions.”
The pension scheme has proved controversial recently as reports emerged that it had a £17.5bn budget deficit.
68 universities have lecturers who have membership with the ACA, and according to the BBC, of these universities, 61 voted overwhelmingly in favour of action, with 88% in favour of strikes and 93% in favour of action short of a strike, with an overall turnout of 58%.
Rent arrears increase
Landlords and universities have been urged to be vigilant and offer support as new figures have revealed that student evictions have increased markedly in the past year.
The number of students in arrears or facing eviction is still extremely small, estimated to be 17,000, but has risen by 16% in a year, according to The Guardian.
The vast majority of students are up to date with payments and many pay months or even a year in advance, but with some students struggling due top funding cuts they are said to be falling behind when paying for accommodation.
The best solution to avoiding arrears is to catch the issues early, so when payments are missed it’s best to have the lettings agents responsible intervene to offer support and guidance on how to ensure students don’t fall behind and risk losing their accommodation.
Oxford admits more women than men
Oxford University has made history this month after it was revealed that it admitted more women than for the first time in its more than 1000 year history.
UCAS reported that undergraduate places were offered and accepted by more women than men, which it celebrated. According to The Guardian article, a total of 1,070 18-year-old female UK applicants to Oxford took places on undergraduate course in autumn 2017, compared with 1,025 men of the same age. Women won more offers and places after applying in record numbers.
There was some concerning news, however, after the same figures showed that disadvantaged white males are amongst the least likely to attend university.
“While it’s too early to call this a trend based on one year’s numbers, it is a welcome sign of progress for female applicants to Oxford,” a spokesperson for Oxford said.
The university had come in for criticism recently after it revealed that it lacked real diversity in its admissions process and many declared that the institution was still elitist.
This recent news is welcome for the university, but with an acknowledgment that there is still a lot of work to be done.