A Newcastle University student has set up a petition calling for compensation for the tuition thousands are missing out on during the upcoming industrial strike action.

A total of 74 universities across the country are to be affected by UCU members walking out for 14 days in February and March over staff pay and working conditions.

But third year law student Emily Johnson, 20, says action is needed now with students being hit the hardest due to a lack of teaching time they have paid more than £9,000 for.

She said: "It is the third round of industrial action I have experienced in the three years I have been at university.

"It's clearly not working and in the meantime it is the students who are suffering the most.

"It is going to take the university to be affected in a way such as compensation for them to come to an agreement with the UCU. At the minute the strike is a cost saving mechanism for the university because they're not paying any staff who decide to strike."

Emily hopes Newcastle University will follow in the footsteps of the University of Sussex, which offered students up to £100 in compensation as a result of UCU members at 60 universities walking out for eight days across November and December.

She has set up a Change.org petition in the hope that the university will reimburse students for the tuition they are missing over the anticipated 14-day strike.

The dates for the upcoming strike are:

Emily Johnson is a third year law student at Newcastle University
Emily Johnson is a third year law student at Newcastle University

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: "If universities want to avoid further disruption they need to deal with rising pension costs, and address the problems over pay and conditions.

"As well as the strikes, we are going to ballot members to ensure that we have a fresh mandate for further action to cover the rest of the academic year if these disputes are not resolved."

With students paying out more than £9,000 in tuition fees each year, Emily says the students should be entitled to in excess of £800 in compensation for a service they are not being provided.

She said: "By no means do we disagree with the strike action. It is more at how our education continues to be not be sufficiently provided.

University staff took part in a strike over the same issues in November

"Students have been left in the dark about what is happening. The university should have procedures in place but they haven't been communicated to us. I'm having to learn a whole topic on my own as a result while others are having their content condensed to make sure it is covered in some form.

"I wasn't expecting the petition to blow up in the way it has. I plan to wait and see how many the petition gets before the strike and then write a letter to the vice chancellor with the signatures attached.

"The university as a service provider has the duty to meet fundamental expectations of its customers.

"Thousands of students have lost hours of teaching and suffered increased distress and inconvenience. It is not acceptable that students are being used as a bargaining chip when our education is at the forefront of the impact."

Newcastle University
Newcastle University

A Newcastle University spokesman told ChronicleLive it has no intention of offering refunds to students but said staff are doing all they can to find a way forward for the benefit of staff and students.

They added: "As this is a national dispute on pay and pensions it cannot be resolved locally but we hope that on-going discussions between UCU, and the national employer organisations, UUK and UCEA, will lead to a successful resolution.

"In the meantime, we are making every effort to minimise the disruption to our students. Over the industrial action period, we are offering a number of additional learning opportunities designed to support students and activities that can supplement their education. These include: additional counselling appointments, drop in sessions for students who want advice and guidance on what to do if their learning is disrupted and an extension of the University Library opening hours.

"We understand the level of concern among our students and are working hard to minimise the impact on their studies. The fee which students pay is a composite fee covering all aspects of the provision to students (not just a ‘cost per class’) and is based on delivery of the overall learning outcomes for students in any given programme. These are delivered and accessed in a variety of ways.

"At the moment, the university is not considering any form of fee reduction or compensation as we still don’t know the extent of any industrial action or the impact it will have on individual students or groups. Any money withheld from staff as a result of strike action will be used for activity that directly benefits our students, for example extra funding for mental health and counselling help and advice."

To sign the petition, go to www.change.org/p/newcastle-university-newcastle-university-strike-compensation