Hundreds of Keele University students have signed a petition calling for compensation after being hit by 14 days of strike action by academics.
University and College Union (UCU) members are about to enter their fourth and final week of walkouts as part of a national dispute over pension changes.
It has already seen many lectures and seminars cancelled and some students unable to contact tutors to discuss their dissertations and assignments.
Now 440 people have signed an online petition to demand Keele University reimburses students for the lost teaching time.
It comes as some students have been told their missed lectures are set to be rescheduled, although union officials have previously ruled out this option.
Politics and international relations student Sam Farrow, who started the petition, said: “If they are delivered at a later date, it puts a bit more pressure on the exams season. But as long as we get the lectures, I’m happy.”
The 20-year-old, who lives in Newcastle, estimates students will have been charged £1,680 in tuition fees for the 14 days of strike action. Although they don’t start repaying fees until they graduate, it is part of their student debt.
Politics student Eleanor Keats said: “It’s like going to the shops and being charged for something that you didn’t buy. We’ve been asking for our money back.
“Lecturers have a right to express their opinions and dissatisfaction. But it’s meant to affect those above them, not the students.”
The 19-year-old, who lives in Newcastle, said many students now felt ‘stressed’ by the disruption to their education.
“I was due to have an assessment next week, but the lecture I’m being assessed on was supposed to be this week. They are having to reschedule the assessment.”
Joe Bragg-Wellings is a second-year international relations and sociology student. The 21-year-old, from Newcastle, said his degree programme is taught by a mixture of striking and non-striking staff.
“It’s not been too bad for me, but I’ve heard it’s been worse for others,” he added.
“Lecturers are obviously entitled to strike. But we had an issue on campus where they were doing a protest outside the library, near to the silent study area. They were trying to get people who supported them to make a noise, while we were trying to study.”
Keele is one of 74 universities to be affected by the industrial action. As well as lecturers, the dispute has involved IT technicians, librarians and other professional support, estates and central services staff at Keele.
Union officials say the average member of the universities superannuation scheme (USS) stands to lose £240,000 from the pension changes. That’s because they face higher contributions while they work and a smaller pension once they retire.
But UCEA, the employers’ body representing the universities, claims the current arrangements are unsustainable.
Alongside the strike action, academics have been working strictly to contract. So far, this has involved not doing overtime, refusing to cover for absent colleagues and not rescheduling lectures lost to strikes.
But a Keele University spokesman said: “Our primary concern is to do all we can to minimise the impact on our students during this period of industrial action.
“Our aim is for postponed teaching activities to be rescheduled and supported by alternative approaches.”
The Keele branch of UCU has been approached for comment.
Students at a number of other universities have also been demanding compensation. At Sheffield University, some students have even threatened court action over the issue.
-- to www.stokesentinel.co.uk