Chinese students facing more challenges due to the UCU strike

China town, London, 18/2/2018,Stellar Cheng

China town, London on 18th February 2018. Image: Stellar Cheng

Staff at 61 UK universities are starting a 14 day long strike action from today and the substantial number of overseas students from China are deeply worried about the impact on their studies.

The dispute concerns planned changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme which the University College Union (UCU) says will leave their members considerably worse off when they retire.

Staff pensions will be subject to changes in the stock market.

The UCU says it is likely to leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off.

The large number of students from China have been expressing their concerns about the harm and damage to their student experience.

The number of Chinese students at British universities far exceeds any other nationality with 91,215 studying in 2015-16.

The figures for the current academic year are expected to be similar.

In 2015-16, the UK was the only country showing a significant increase in student numbers from China.

Some Chinese students preferred to explain their worries anonymously.

The news of the strike has been sudden and surprising leaving many students unable to anticipate the situation in terms of planning flights home.

The insecurity has added to the stress of those Chinese students who have had to cope with the homesickness of staying in Britain when more well-off students have returned to China for the traditional family New Year celebrations.


Many believe that if they are going to be without classes, tutorials, and assessments during the strike period, they should receive some refund on tuition fees or get extensions on exam deadlines.

Another reason Chinese students are experiencing more stress from the strike is that they pay very high overseas tuition fees that are usually more than double the amount paid by home/EU students.

There is the added pressure of studying at a fluent academic standard in a second language.

Many Chinese student welfare officers are concerned this could trigger or exacerbate bipolar and other mental health conditions associated with the homesickness experienced by students from China.

Chinese students are also very concerned that the strike period is directly followed by the Easter vacation thus extending the vista of isolation, insecurity and last of structure needed when studying overseas thousands of miles from home.

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