By Q Radio News
Thousands of students face disruption to lectures across Northern Ireland today as university staff begin 14 days of industrial action.
Members of the UCU union are walking out in a dispute over pay and pensions.
It affects 74 units across the UK including Queens and Ulster University.
Masters student Nollaig Molloy is on the picket line at Ulster University’s Belfast Campus and says staff have the full support of students.
Meanwhile, Associate fine art lecturer at Ulster University Aisling O’Beirn says there’s a whole range of factors linked to the pay and pensions dispute which is now at tipping point:
University lecturers and @ucu members across NI are taking part in 14 days of industrial action as part of a dispute over pay and pensions— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) February 20, 2020
Associate lecturer in fine art at Ulster University Aisling O’Beirn says there’s a crisis within the higher education sector pic.twitter.com/bb1WzMoZZY
Responding, NUS-USI president Robert Murtagh has called for an end to the marketisation of higher education, which is resulting in the increasing casualisation of work for university staff and placing significant stress on both staff and students.Masters student Nollaig Molloy is on the picket line at Ulster University’s Belfast Campus and says staff have the full support of students.Masters student Nollaig Molloy is on the picket line at Ulster University’s Belfast Campus and says staff have the full support of students.
Robert Murtagh, the president of NUS-USI, said:
The student movement in NI stands in solidarity with staff at our universities who have taken this action in the face of regular attacks on their working conditions in recent years.
This second round of strike action has come in response to the universities’ failure to make significant improvements on pay, pensions, equality, casualisation and workloads.
I understand the concerns of students who are now facing further disruption to their studies, close to final exams. But we know that lecturers and support staff would much rather be spending their time educating students. They have been forced into this position by the continued unwillingness of universities to deal with problems which have been building for over a decade. Our education system is broken, and staff and students are paying the price.
I encourage students across NI to engage positively with their lecturers and support staff who choose to strike, and support UCU’s campaign to defend pensions, pay and working conditions. The working conditions of staff are the learning conditions of students.
I call on Universities UK to recognise the seriousness of the situation we now find ourselves in and enter into serious discussions with UCU about pay and conditions.
I also call on the Northern Ireland Assembly to recognise the role that years of disinvestment in universities has played in creating this crisis and commit to increased public investment in our universities.”