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Labour Market Realities: Pressures on Lecturers

Lecturers and university staff continue to be embroiled in a dispute over pensions amid fears of casualisation and marketisation in the sector, senior lecturer Dr Jason Arday tells of the stress on his colleagues caused by excessive workloads and job insecurity. 

The University and College Union (UCU) members have been striking in over 60 universities over plans to shift their pensions from a defined benefit scheme, giving members a guaranteed income in retirement, to a defined contribution scheme, where pensions are subject to changes in the stock market. 

Dr Arday, who teaches in the University of Roehampton, says that having a secure pension is essential given the severe pressures on academic staff. Institutions have a "duty of care" to university staff, who are suffering mental stress as a result of demands.

UCU has been locked in a battle with Universities UK (UUK) over proposed pension reforms which the union says its members stand to lose £10,000 every year of their retirement. 

Sally Hunt, the general secretary of UCU, has called on external examiners to resign their positions at those universities, which could delay graduations and call into question the quality of the degree.