London universities’ staff vote to strike over job cuts

Staff at two London universities have voted in favour of industrial action in a dispute about funding cuts.

Lecturers at University College London (UCL) and University of Westminster agreed to the strike a month after staff at King’s College London walked out, reports the BBC.

Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, said: “Members at Westminster and UCL have the union’s full support. These cuts will have a damaging impact on students and the quality of service they can expect from the institutions. Getting rid of staff and distinguished departments will come back and haunt the universities.”

Both staff jobs and departments are believed to be under threat as universities come under increasing financial pressure. The UCU has warned that more than 15,000 university jobs could be shed over the next few years as a result of the government’s announcement that university budgets will be reduced by £449m for 2010-11, equivalent to a 5% cut.

A UCL spokesman told the BBC: “It’s important to note that a relatively small proportion of UCL staff took part in the ballot, and that of the UCU members who did take part, nearly 40% opposed action.

“This coming term is vitally important as many of our students will be taking their final-year exams. In our ongoing discussions with the unions we will be discussing how we can forestall any negative impacts of possible action on our students.”

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